As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, there is no doubt, as we look to the future, that we must reflect and appreciate our history and recognize the building blocks of our success. Join us as we celebrate Roncalli's 50th anniversary by highlighting 50 great moments from our past.
On March 19 & 21, 1971, Roncalli performed their first musical, Oklahoma. The show starred Jane Ullrich R'71 and Chuck Kern R'71.
The Chapel was officially completed in late 2010, and Most Rev. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein celebrated the dedication of The Chapel of the Sacred Heart with us on December 7, 2010. The Chapel is used daily for morning prayer services and Mass during students’ study sessions.
Roncalli embarked on its first ever capital campaign to address the growing needs of the Roncalli community. Projects funded by this campaign: adding 13 additional classrooms, a band room, media center and offices. The campaign raised over $3.3 million dollars.
The Christian Awakening Retreat has made an impact on thousands of Rebels over the years. It was started at RHS by a small group of individuals, handpicked by then principal Bernie Dever in 1978. Their hard work allowed the program to continue through leadership changes and chaplain changes, allowing each class of Senior Rebels to experience this retreat.
Roncalli was the first faith-based school in the state of Indiana to offer a comprehensive program for students with special needs. The STARS (Students That Are Ready for Success) Program, started in 1993 by Mrs. Pat Musgrave, has evolved into a program that is modeled at Catholic and other faith-based schools throughout the United States.
For the first time in Roncalli history, the Rebels were State Champions! Check out the call from the WTTV telecast of the girls volleyball final game: "Roncalli has come storming back...from pure death." (last point) "One more point for Roncalli and they're a first-time ever state champion, here is a net violation (four hits)...the point to Roncalli--and they are state champions!"
Roncalli's commitment to service was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Roncalli was one of only five high schools in the nation (out of over 38,000 high schools) to have received the award for an Exemplary Service Learning Program in 1998!
Pope St. John XXIII was known as the "Good Pope", and on September 3, 2000, John XXIII was declared "Blessed" alongside Pope Pius IX by Pope John Paul II.
The 1976 Rebel baseball team won Roncalli's first Sectional Championship! They were coached by current RHS drafting teacher, Mr. Jim Ratliff, who says, " We enjoyed playing baseball. We really enjoyed it and I think that helped. We had a great year that year, and it was a lot of fun."
In 1995, upon the suggestion of then Archbishop Buechlein, Roncalli moved to the President - Principal model. This allowed for the principal to focus on academia while the president could focus on strategic and financial planning for the school.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. In 1993, Roncalli was awarded its first of three Blue Ribbons!
In an effort to continue to learn more about Pope St. John XXIII, and to learn more about his life, legacy and spirit and most importantly to strive to pass on his life, legacy and spirit to the next generation of Roncalli students, faculty, staff members and families, the school established the “Life, Legacy and Spirit of St. John XXIII” pilgrimage program.
The 2006 fall play was historical for Roncalli. It was the first ever production in our new auditorium! The cast and crew performed "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
For the first time as Roncalli Rebels, the students held the Canned Food Drive. The Class of 1972 won the class competition for most cans collected.
Roncalli received the Outstanding Board of Directors award from the National Catholic Educational Association. A large celebratory reception was hosted in April 2015 to recognize all past and current board members.
During the summer of 2006, Roncalli installed artificial turf in the stadium for the first time. The decision was a cost savings measure ensuring that the school would have a state of the art playing surface for football, soccer, physical education and many other uses during the school year, including holding graduation outdoors.
Nick Oskay R'97 was the first National Winner of the National Association of Women in Construction contest that Mr. Ratliff (The Captain) had from his program in 1997. Since then, the program has had 11 additional winners!
The Circle City Conference officially began in the 2016-17 school year and enjoyed a strong inaugural year with Bishop Chatard, Brebeuf Jesuit, Guerin Catholic and Roncalli as the founding members. Heritage Christian joined the league in 2017-18, and Covenant Christian (Indianapolis) joined the league during 2018-19 school year.
In 1991, Roncalli's first Walkathon was held. It was a day spent not only walking but also picking up trash around the south side. As the yearbook states, "It has become a Roncalli tradition that will live on throughout the years."
As part of the 2002 Master Facility Plan, an elevator was to be added to the newest wing of the school. Roncalli felt it would help students and guests in wheelchairs maneuver around the building...especially on days like Grandparent's Day. Ground broke in 2005, and this wing was officially up and running in 2006.
Officially, established during the 2013-2014 school year, The Life Academy was designed for students who are pursuing a Certificate of Completion program. Roncalli accepted their first Certificate of Completion student in 2003 (no official program in place), and added the work-study and independent aspect in 2006. Living components of the Certificate of Completion program were then added. Mrs. Michelle Roberts was hired in 2009 to coordinate an official program, which was renamed the Life Academy for the 2013-14 school year.
As the caption in the yearbook states, "Senior Donnie Mappes R'76 achieves the Ultimate--STATE CHAMPION!" He was the first individual state champion for the Rebels.
What started in 1982 as a trip out west with five students, has now turned into a trip that includes over 100 students each summer! Summer Field Studies is designed to give students an opportunity to learn and apply the skills related to camping, hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, orienteering, wilderness safety and first aid, minimum impact camping, and backpacking along with other recreational and lifetime fitness activities while witnessing and experiencing the spiritual and physical beauty of God.
Laura Eizember R'87 was Roncalli's first Academic All-Star in 1987! Schools are directed to select nominees based on criteria such as standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, both academic and non-academic, leadership, community service and involvement.
After numerous appearances in the state championship match, Roncalli finally won that blue medal! The Rebels beat Cathedral in four games...to make the victory even sweeter!
Roncalli's philosophy on technology has evolved through the years but has had one constant point of emphasis. That constant point of emphasis is that the school will make all necessary investments in technology when it is clear that its use enhances teaching and/or learning. The school implemented a 1:1 technology program in the 2016-17 school year with each student being issued a Chromebook.
The Lady Rebels beat Manual High School to capture the first Sectional Championship for a girls team. The Rebels were led by the four Sexton sisters...four siblings all playing on a championship team!
Fresh off of a state championship, Paige Weber R'07 was named The National Setter of the Year...a first for a Roncalli Rebel! Paige then played collegiate volleyball at the University of Arizona.
To assist with our growing Latino community, Roncalli hired Andi (Rojas R'01) Baker as the new school secretary upon the retirement of Donna Smith.
In February of 2008, the new auxiliary "bubble" gym was filled with air for the first time, giving Roncalli a second gymnasium. It could no longer be stated that Roncalli was the largest high school in Indiana without a second gym. Today the air supported structure continues to give the school valuable indoor gym space.
The first Rebelation in 1999 was a Sock Hop theme, and it raised more than $50,000 for Roncalli students...not bad for a first-time event! All Rebelation proceeds provide needs-based tuition assistance.
Nick Schnell R'18 marked the end of his Rebel baseball career by being named the 2018 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year...the first Rebel to receive this honor. Then, he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the MLB Draft...another Roncalli first!
In 2014, Roncalli earned its first 4-Star Rating! This is the Indiana Department of Education's highest school ranking. In order to receive a 4-Star designation, a school must receive an "A" on the state's A-F accountability system, have excellent ISTEP pass rates, carry an overall high graduation rate and show success in closing achievement gaps.
John Kennedy R'81 was a three-sport (football, basketball, baseball) athlete, and he was on Student Council while at Roncalli. During the 1980 football season, Kennedy led the team in passing, scoring, punting and was tied for most interceptions! John was Roncalli's first male city athlete of the year!
The 2002 baseball season opened Roncalli's LaPinta Field for the first time, after playing home games the previous few seasons at UIndy. The old field was where the auditorium now sits, and it also served as a parking lot on Friday nights in the fall for football. LaPinta Field is named after Hall of Fame coach John Wirtz's in-laws and boasts a beautiful setting in the woods, with lights and an irrigation system.
As Roncalli grew from 600 students to 800, and then 900 and then 1,000, faculty, administration and board members constantly asked themselves “Can we maintain all of the good things about our school that people are seeking as we grow to these higher numbers?” The biggest concern has always been that as the school gets larger it becomes easier for students to fall through the cracks and to get lost in the shuffle. To address this concern, Roncalli hired an Assistant Principal of Student Activities to develop and grow the level to which kids can be engaged during their high school years through sports, clubs, and other activities.
Before a record crowd of 6,799 at Victory Field, the baseball team won the IHSAA 4A state title with a 3-2 nine-inning victory over top-ranked Zionsville! The Rebels scored the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, as senior Will Harris' R'16 bases-loaded infield hit scored sophomore Mark Cobb R'18 from third!
Rachel Knierman R'18 won The Congressional Art Competition for 2018 as Indiana's representative, the first time ever in school history! Her artwork was displayed in the rotunda of the United States Capitol building for one year.
TRADITION. EXCELLENCE. FAITH. LEGACY…all words consistently associated with Roncalli High School. As part of the 2011 Circle of Faith Annual Fund, funds were raised to landscape the RHS Circle. The landscaping plan included the Jerusalem Cross, constructed in the center of the Circle with personalized bricks.
On top of being named Roncalli's first McDonald's All-American in history, Lindsey Corsaro R'16 was also a finalist for Indiana Miss Basketball.
For this group of seniors, it was their third trip to state...the Rebels defeated Wawasee for their record-breaking "3-peat"! Quarterback Andrew Hasty R'05 tied NFL pro Jeff George with his record passing yards at the Hoosier Dome.
The 1985 football season introduced for the first time, the Running "R" on the side of our football helmets. Coach Bill Kuntz was looking for a way to make the Rebels "look" faster, and he asked Matt R'87 Walsh and Joe Walsh for a new design. The Running "R" soon was born and became the symbol of Roncalli excellence throughout the entire sports program for 32 years.
With an exciting finish, the 1999 Rebels took home the first state championship for the program! Pitcher Ariane Kurtz R'99 pitched a no-hitter...her strong arm helped to clinch the state title.
During her four years at Roncalli, Suzanne Scheele R'82 was a four-sport athlete who earned 11 varsity letters! Scheele's accolades could fill a book, but her most notable award came when she was named the Indianapolis Star 1982 City Athlete of the Year.
Defensive back Jason Werner R'05, the state leader in interceptions his senior season, was named Indiana's Mr. Football for 2004. Werner, a Purdue recruit, received 60 first-place votes and 511 points in ballots submitted by coaches and media members from across Indiana.
On a snowy day in December, the Ascension St. Vincent Gymnasium was officially opened! A dedication ceremony and pep rally took place that afternoon to celebrate. Wrestling against Lawrence North was the first event to take place in the new space.
The Rebels took home the first football state championship in the fall of 1985. They beat Wawasee 37-3, and the team was lead by running back Joe Gillum R'86. Mr. Bill Kuntz was also named Coach of the Year for that season.
On August 17, 2007, the Rebel Media Network made its first broadcast with Matt Taylor R'04, Dan Bauer R'85 and Darla Coop Armbruster. Since then, Rob Brown has joined the team, and the Rebel Media Network has broadcasted over 800 games, covering football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, softball, girls volleyball, boys volleyball, boys soccer, girls soccer, boys track, girls track and wrestling.
The 2005-2006 Annual Fund was called "Cool the School" to get air conditioning for the original wing of the school. It had always been a "hot" topic, and they finally were able to cool it down in the summer of 2006!
In the spring of 2014, the Roncalli community celebrated the canonization of Pope John XXIII from Indianapolis to Rome! In Indy, over 230 students gathered to watch the actual canonization from the school auditorium. While that was happening, Mr. Weisenbach, Dr. Hollowell and four students traveled to Rome to witness the canonization from inside St. Peter's Square.