A Legacy of Love: From Student to Parent, O’Gorman Alum Shares His Full Perspective

This paid content is sponsored by Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools.

By Mike Heineman, 1996 O’Gorman High School graduate and parent of an alumnus

Almost everything great in my life is connected in some way to Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools. I met my wife, Susie, class of 1996, at O’Gorman. Many of my friends as adults are friends I met at O’Gorman. We have three children who I consider prepared for life because of the teachers, priests and administrators at our schools. I am grateful for the impact O’Gorman has had on my life; therefore, I want to make sure that I help where I can so that we can continue to have a positive impact on families.

When Father Rutten asked me to be St. Mary’s representative on the school board for Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. After several days of reflection and prayer, I had to decide which was harder: to attend many hours of meetings for the next four to eight years of my life or to tell Father Rutten “no” – so I have been on the school board for three years and I am very grateful for the opportunity. It gave me Me the chance to see the dedication and loyalty of our teachers and administrators. The opportunity to work with other people who love O’Gorman and what our school system stands for to ensure our future growth has been the most rewarding aspect for me.

Nice memories

One of the aspects I love about my experience at O’Gorman can be summed up by a recent parent-teacher conference I attended. First, we sat down to discuss our boys’ math with Mr. Lindemann, then moved on to U.S. history with Mr. Krier. Then Mrs. Bradfield discussed personal finances; and finally, we stopped to talk with Mrs. Mahoney, our principal. All of these teachers, coaches, and administrators have been at O’G since Susie and me I went there. These are people I trust, I am I know and know how my children will be taught and treated because I am student in their classrooms.

My favorite memory of O’Gorman happened before I even started classes. It was at the freshman dance the summer before school started. I was sitting against a pole in the cafeteria because dancing wasn’t always my strong suit. My buddy Ryan Martinson brought a girl over to introduce me, and she said, “Hi, I’m Susie Baer.” Nine years later, Susie and I were married, and seven years later, we sent our first child to Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools’ preschool at St. Mary Elementary.

The importance of mentoring

The O’G experience my children had is one I am most grateful for. Our oldest son, Will, who graduated in the spring, was a bit lost as a freshman and was looking for “something” to do in high school. One of the boys who He knew from football, Lucas Wagner had heard about it and invited Will to the gym one day after school to lift weights. The trainers there changed his life. They gave him confidence and encouragement. The powerlifting coaches—Vinnie Olson, Nolan Cleary and Colin Fromelt—transformed Will from a quiet, insecure kid into an outgoing, confident young man.

Our middle son, Zach, is a new junior and soccer player. One of my favorite things about the soccer team is how the older kids take on the younger eighth graders, freshmen, and sophomoresS under their wing. The transition to high school can be very intimidating, but it was very important for Zach to have those older boys who look out for you and treat you like a peer, not a little kid. In eighth grade, Mason Fritz, then a senior, really set the tone for Zach as to what it meant to be a part of the O’G football team. Wesley Zimprich mentored him his freshman year, and Nick North mentored Zach his sophomore year. I can’t wait for Zach to continue that great tradition of leadership now that he’s a senior and has the impact on another group of young players, just like the older boys did for him.

Hannah just finished sixth grade at St. Mary Elementary. This fall will be the first year Susie and I haven’t had a student at St. Mary’s in 15 years. My best memories of my children at St. Mary’s are definitely from school masses: watching them serve at the altar, reading, or bringing gifts. They are fortunate enough to celebrate God with their friends and classmates, and that is a true gift. When Hannah comes home from her day to tell me how many siblings Father Doty has or where Father Rutten’s favorite place to eat is, I feel so lucky to be able to interact with the wonderful priests in our schools.

A short appeal to parents of children attending our schools

Today, with so many schools in Sioux Falls, parents have more choices about where to send their children to get an education, and many students are making those choices. I know from my recent volunteering that the two main ways people hear about our Catholic schools are through our parishes and our friends. My plea to you is this: When you talk to parents whose children attend other schools and ask about O’G, tell them why you send your children here and what you love about it. Offer to show them around, take them to a game, or visit our admissions staff. Give them the opportunity to see what we all love about Bishop O’Gorman Catholic. Sschools.

If you are an O’Gorman graduate with school-age children who are not in the system and are thinking about switching, please contact the admissions office at [email protected] and they can put you in touch with me. I would love to talk to you about Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools and why we choose a Catholic education for our children!