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Alumni Highlights & Stories

Hannah Stroud, Class of 2010:  Hannah is the perfect example of what your child can do with the premier education provided at CTK.  After graduating from Christ the King school in 2010, Hannah then graduated from Nardin Academy and went to Texas A&M University.  She is currently working on a Master of Science - MS, Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.  She has completed several internships involving mechanical engineering and aircraft component design.  In her most recent position, she developed a shape memory alloy actuated morphing wing utilizing liquid metal as an inductive heat source.  The more Hannah learns, the more questions are evoked.  She first leaned about the Bernoulli Effect at Christ the King school.  She also learned that she loves to be challenged.  Ultimately, Hannah would like to stimulate the search for answers in other brilliant minds either by leading an R&D team or becoming a professor.

Haley Denzak, Class of 2008:  Did you watch the credits at the end of the Oscars?  If you did, then you saw the name of one of our own, Haley Denzak, listed!  She graduated from CTK in 2008.  After she left us she went to Sacred Heart Academy and then to John Carroll University.  At John Carroll she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Media Communications.  The Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland the year of her graduation.  The RNC TV producer hired Haley to work on that broadcast because of her Buffalo connection, her academic record and her desire to work in television.  He associated her Buffalo roots with Tim Russert who also went to John Carroll.  From her strong work on that broadcast, she went on to assist on other events such as the Emmy's.  Her most recent credit was Assistant at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - 90th Academy Awards.  Her upcoming freelance work will be acquiring talent for Laugh In, the iHeart Radio Music Awards and the Kids Choice Awards.  She lives in Los Angeles now and loves the warm weather, especially at this time of year.  She and her family still spend time with friends they made at CTK.

Dr. Philip Schneider, Class of 2006:  Our own CTK graduate, Dr. Philip Schneider, was named to the 30 Under 30 list by Buffalo Business First for 2021.  Phil is the Head of Research & Development at ACV Auctions where he has authored 4 patents pertaining to automating automobile inspections prior to resale.  ACV Auctions is the leading dealer to dealer in the digital wholesale marketplace. Dealers nationwide buy and sell tens of thousands of vehicles from ACV on a monthly basis.

Phil graduated from Christ the King School in 2006.  He then went on to graduate from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in 2010.  He attended the University of Buffalo, receiving his doctorate in Electrical Engineering in 2018.   He worked for a Fortune 500 company, Qualcomm, where he authored 3 patents and developed advanced technology which became the basis for what is currently used today in the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone.  During his time at the university, he published 7 Journal Articles, 15 conference papers and was an invited speaker at numerous engagements. His outstanding academics combined with his service to the local community resulted in him receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the highest recognition given across the entire SUNY system statewide.

He consistently promotes creative thinking, soft skills, inventing concepts, and entrepreneurial mind-sets to students, boy/girl scouts, and interested young minds from ages Kindergarten to 8th grade. Dr. Schneider worked with the University’s “Science Elementary at Westminster Charter School” where he was in the classroom working directly with students in the Kindergarten, 1st, and 5th grade levels. He ventured out to co-found a youth STEM program in an effort to target a wider area of students. “Project F.I.S.” or Fun, Inspiring, Science is a program designed to inspire, excite, stimulate, and motivate students in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 

He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Biometrics Council.  The council’s vision is to be the leading and driving force within and outside the IEEE for the advancement and sustainability of the field of biometrics.

The Business First team annually chooses 30 Western New York leaders under the age of 30, who are proven performers in their industry and community.  These are 30 trailblazers, and choosing this list of 30 is no simple task with hundreds of entries in play.  

Matthew Wopperer, Class of 1999:  After he graduated from CTK, he went on to graduate from St. Joe's.  He and his wife, Amy, both went to Notre Dame where Matthew graduated with a dual degree in Chemistry and Business.  He returned to Snyder in 2015 where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.  He is currently Senior Territory Account Manager at Johnson & Johnson Vision.  His wife Amy is a project Manager at Rich Products.  His strong ties to Christ the King School are life-long.  Some of his best friends in life are guys he met here.  And his son, Henry, will be attending Pre-K 4 in the fall.  We hope to see his other son, Leo, here in a few years. 

Kevin McGowan, Class of 1988:  Kevin McGowan, the Superintendent of Brighton Central Schools in Rochester, N.Y., has been named the 2023 AASA National Superintendent of the Year®.  

“We’re on the right path,” said McGowan, when asked in January what it means to be a National Superintendent of the Year® finalist. “The work that’s happening in our district for children is approaching a place where people are noticing the gaps we’ve closed for children, the work that’s gone into that and the leadership that’s been provided to support each child and each family. This is really such a recognition of that work.”

“Navigating the myriad of challenges that school districts face on an ongoing basis requires unparalleled leadership. Superintendent Kevin McGowan exemplifies a leader who is excelling on the job on behalf of the learning community he serves, and I am so pleased to congratulate him as the 2023 National Superintendent of the Year®,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “It is truly an honor to recognize Kevin, as well as our other three finalists, PJ Caposey, Matthew Hillmann and Trent North, for serving as champions for children and empowering their students to lead us into a better world. I thank Corebridge Financial and First Student for supporting our program.”

The AASA National Superintendent of the Year® program is open to all U.S. superintendents who plan to continue in the profession. The program also honors Canadian and other international school superintendents. 

Colonel Joseph Janik, Class of 1984:  Colonel Joseph D. Janik, graduated from CTK in 1984.  Col. Janik is the Wing Commander of the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio.  The wing is comprised of more than 1300 Air Force Reserve members and is equipped with eight C-130H2 aircraft.  The wing trains and employs the C-130 Hercules globally on medium range airlift, tactical airland and airdrop, Modular Aerial Spray System, and Aeromedical Evacuation missions. 

He began his career, in 1988, as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist, 20th Fighter Wing, RAF Upper Heyford, UK.  After completing his 4 year active duty period at Cannon AFB, NM, he joined the Air Force Reserve with the 328th Airlift Squadron, Niagara Falls ARS, New York as a C-130 Flight Engineer. 

After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo, he was commissioned at Officer Training School. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. After graduating from UPT in 1998, he returned to the 328th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-130 at Niagara Falls ARS, eventually working as the chief of the Standardization and Evaluation section. 

Col. Janik has flown combat missions in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  He has served as the 914th operations group commander, Niagara Falls ARS and as the Director of Operations and Readiness for 22nd Air Force. Prior to his current assignment, Col Janik served as the Vice Wing Commander for the 910th Airlift Wing.

Tim Reilly, Class of 1971:  Tim graduated from CTK in 1971 with 55 other students.  Tim worked and lived in the Amherst area until 1977 when he hopped on his vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle and headed for the warmer climate of Houston, TX.   Arriving in Houston, he found a steady job with a company called Fox & Jacobs.  He worked hard and his skills were evident, so the company sent him for specialized brick layer training.  He worked his way up to commercial jobs after developing his mastery at the residential level.
In 1986, Mr. Reilly founded T.E. Reilly, Inc.,  a construction firm based in Houston, TX.   He takes pride in providing high quality modern construction techniques in commercial masonry projects.   Many of their projects are church buildings in South East Texas.
T. E. Reilly has about 100 employees, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years!  More information about the company can be found at TEReilly.com

Tim’s 3 younger siblings, Michael, Elizabeth and Mary also graduated from Christ the King.  His sister, Elizabeth (Betsy) lives in Texas while his other 2 siblings are still here in Western New York.

Tim is pictured in the photo of the Class of 1971:  Second row from the top, and third from the left.

Fun Fact:  There are a dozen CTK graduates living in Texas in the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio areas.

Paul Coppola, Class of 1970:  I graduated from Christ the King School in 1970.  We had 56 students in our graduating class.  I am proud that three of us attended the University of Notre Dame together:  Me, Trish Brennan, and Fr. Mark Illig (rest in peace).  I am one of ten children and all ten of us attended Christ the King School (Michael, Leonard, Joey, Jacky, Mary (rest in peace), Peter, Paul, Robert, Richard, and Donna).  Also, six of my nieces and nephews attended Christ the King—all with Coppola as their last name (Maria, Christine, PJ, Mark, Laura, and Robin).  My late parents, Angela and Joseph, had 31 grandchildren and now have 26 great-grandchildren with one on the way. 

One of my special memories is that our 8th grade basketball team made it to the city championship game.  We ended up losing to St. Mary’s of the Deaf School but we beat several city teams in very close games.  Our exciting playoff run was led by our great coach, Mr. Mike McGuire.  Later in life, Mr. McGuire’s wife became a Catholic after receiving instructions from Fr. Mark Illig, who was the manager of our basketball team.

After I graduated from Christ the King, I went to Bishop Neumann High School (of happy memory), then on to the University of Notre Dame for a B.S. degree. I received a Master’s degree from Harvard University (School of Public Health).  I was a high school teacher and basketball coach for ten years.  I also taught CCD at a nearby parish.  I then joined the federal workforce in Washington, DC, for a 30-year career at the National Institutes of Health and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I retired in 2019 and am now in my third year as an adjunct professor of Chemistry. I have lived in the nation’s capital for 35 years.  I have been on the March for Life over 25 times.

I am also a free-lance writer and have published two books: The Life Story and Memories of Louis Charles D’Addio, and Points of Meditation about our Lady by St. Josemaría.  Lou D’Addio was active in civil rights and the pro-life movement in Washington, DC, and was a very holy man and a close friend who lived to be 98 years old.  St. Josemaría Escrivá is known as the Saint of ordinary life.  He was canonized in 2002.  I attended the ceremony in Rome.

Christ the King School laid a very good foundation for me.  Throughout my entire life, I have taken with me, the lessons that I learned (in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic).  Here are some of them:

  • Always check your work three times (from Sister Giovanni—third grade)
  • When an ambulance goes by, say “Lord have mercy.”
  • The golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • What you say about someone always gets back to them.
  • There is good and bad in everyone.  No one is all good or all bad.
  • A carpenter always brings his tools to work (make sure you come to class with pen and paper).
  • Empty barrels make the most noise (referring to the talkers in class).
  • Never walk out into the street from between parked cars.

But best of all, I received from Christ the King School a deepening of my Catholic faith.  I received my first communion and confirmation at Christ the King.  We had Holy Mass, Confession, Benediction, and said the rosary together (with the litany).  Those things have stayed with me for my entire life.  I will never forget Msgr. McMahon, Fr. Brown, Fr. Hogan, and Father Kasinski. The nuns I had as teachers gave a wonderful example of a life dedicated to God.

What I learned at Christ the King School is part of each and every day for me. 

For all of this, thank you Christ the King School and Parish!

Martha Hard Batzloff, Class of 1968:  "I am sorry I missed the (Class of '68) reunion weekend!  It has been fun reconnecting with classmates via email and I hope I can make the NEXT reunion!  Christ the King has a special place in my heart.  It is my birth parish; I was baptized there.  I attended CTK School K-8th grade and received a superb education.  My 1st grade teacher taught us, among other things, to "sound it out" and her steadfastness in trainining us for 1st Holy Communion impressed upon us a reverence for the Sacrament.  All good memories." 

Rick Cusimano, Class of 1968:  "Wow, what an absolutely fantastic idea it was getting us all together (for Class '68 Reunion) after so many years.  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to revisit this important chapter in our lives.  To be able to reconnect and remember the warm friendships and experiences we shared so long ago is something I won't forget.  So great to see everyone doing so well.  Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone at some future date and hopefully those who were unable to make it this time."

Pat Knoerl, Class of 1968:  "Well, THAT (Class of '68 Reunion) was incredibly fun!  Loved seeing you all...what a night!  So many great conversations with so many remarkable people...we are a pretty great, and certainly UNIQUE class!  So much love and good feelings, funny memories, impressive and interesting life stories...so far...we aren't done.  Yet!  Thank you all for an amazing time.  Love to you all...until next time."

Michael N. Coppola, Class of 1962:  Mayor Byron Brown has declared Saturday, October 29, 2022 as Michael N. Coppola Day in Buffalo, NY.  View the Memorial Proclamation here.  

Sister Mara Walton, Class of 1955:  Sister Mara Walton who graduated in 1955, is a Sister of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity from Stella Niagara NY. She attended Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart and entered the community following high school. For 50 years, she taught science and presently works part-time in the Advancement Office of Sacred Heart. 

Sister Virginia Young and Sister Loretta Young (twins), Class of 1944:  The Young sisters went to Mount Saint Joseph after graduation. They both taught at the School for the Deaf and Sister Virginia taught at Canisius College. There were only 11 people in their CTK graduating class. Sister Virginia recalls that the Franciscan Sisters of Alleghany had just begun teaching here at Christ the King School and the 7th and 8th Grade were in the same room! Sister Virginia was fascinating to talk to. Her memory is fantastic. Her twin, Sister Loretta Young, is in the St Joseph's residence in Clarence. Our 6th Grade class put together a spiritual bouquet that will be delivered to her there. 


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