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Making Mr. Canisius: 2024 finalists with faculty members who made an impact
Keith McShea

The six 2024 Mr. Canisius finalists all had their photo taken with a faculty member of their choice during the seniors' fun-filled final day of school.

The 63rd Mr. Canisius will be announced at our Senior Awards on Tuesday, May 21.

A Mr. Canisius finalist and faculty member were featured in the week leading up to the announcement.

See all of the Mr. Canisius finalists, along with the compete reflections they wrote about their time at Canisius.

Here is why Matthew Hassenfratz ’24 chose Director of Guidance and Counseling Anne Marie Moscovic:

“Mrs. Moscovic has been a guiding light to my four years at Canisius. She truly cares for every student that comes to her for help.

“Mrs. Moscovic has also been instrumental throughout the demanding college application process, talking me through making my final decision to go to Case Western Reserve University.

“However, the way that Mrs Moscovic and I have connected so well was through simple little chats that we often shared. Any time that I just needed someone to talk to or someone to joke around with, Mrs. Moscovic always was ready and willing to casually have a laugh.

“What Mrs. Moscovic has done for me cannot be confined to words. I am extremely grateful for everything that she has done for me and every other lucky student to have met her.”

Moscovic’s thoughts on Hassenfratz:

“It has been an incredible honor to know Matthew. One of the things I appreciate the most about him is the energy he brings to each day. His positive attitude spills over to everyone around him, starting with his enthusiastic greeting to the school every morning on the announcements.

“And yet underneath that infectious charisma is the humble, grounded young man who has a genuine commitment to being a Man For and With Others. Through countless conversations in my office I have come to know that Matthew, and I truly appreciate his mature ability to make the best of any situation and not let life’s obstacles get him down. He stays light-hearted and he has a wonderful sense of humor. I have shared many a laugh with him over the last few years and I am grateful for all of those experiences.

“Matthew’s intellectual capacity is incredible, and I am so excited for him as he makes his way to Case Western to study biomedical engineering. The world needs people like Matthew, who will devote his heart and his mind to finding innovative ways to improve the lives of others.”

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Hassenfratz, who is from Orchard Park, attended St. John Vianney School and is headed to Case Western Reserve University:

“When I came to Canisius, I was not sure what I wanted to be or who I was going to become. All I knew was that I wanted to change the lives of the people around me. However, as my time at Canisius comes to a close, I know that there were countless other people at Canisius who had an invaluable impact on my life.”

“Without my peers, teachers, coaches and family, I would not be the man I am today.”

Here is why Evan Galvin ’24 chose teacher Dennis Beecher ’88:

“From Head of House to Rock Climbing Club organizer, and every retreat or club in between, Mr. Beecher exemplifies what it means to be a Man for Others. His commitment to the Canisius community is among the most inspiring attributes of his character.

“Anyone that has ever met Mr. Beecher knows him by his smile or his bow tie, but he is more than just a European History teacher. From freshmen orientation to the Grad at Grad project, Mr. Beecher has always been a person I have looked up to.

“Although he only taught me for 2 years, he has always been the teacher who continues to check in on me. Sometimes just a conversation about the snowfall in Ellicottville or the Bills is all you need.”

Beecher’s thoughts on Galvin:

“At Canisius I truly believe we are teaching future leaders of the world. Young men like Evan Galvin make me optimistic about our future and proud to be a teacher at Canisius.

“Evan is a young man with integrity, who embodies the Ignatian idea of compassion. He was the rector of Kairos this year and I could not have been more impressed with his humility, generosity and character. Evan excels at everything he does because of his hard work and commitment and I am sure that will be the case at West Point next year.

“It is truly an honor and humbling to be chosen by Evan as someone who has positively impacted him during his four years at Canisius.”

A Mr. Canisius finalist and faculty member will be featured every day this week.

All of the finalists, along with the reflections they wrote about their time at Canisius, are at canisiushigh.org/mrcanisius

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Galvin, who is from East Aurora, attended East Aurora Middle School and is headed to the United States Military Academy:

“In my four short years behind the Blue Doors, I now know Canisius not only exemplifies a brotherhood, but holds standards of integrity, humility and accountability in all facets, developing Men For Others.

“At Canisius, I have grown in mind, body, and spirit. In the classroom, I have been given a set of tools for future academic success. I have developed leadership, communication skills and competitiveness on the sports field, and will take those traits into my future as a West Point cadet.

"Outside the walls of 1180, I have learned the power of Ignatian discernment through retreat opportunities and the Companions program.”

Here is why Patrick Sullivan ’24 chose teacher Eric Koessler ’84:

“I have had the privilege of knowing Mr. Koessler all of my four years at Canisius High School. Whether it was teaching me in my freshman religion class, or guiding me in the guitar ensemble all four years; Mr. Koessler was always there to help and support.

“I vividly remember my freshman orientation. It was very awkward because of the COVID-19 protocols, and Canisius was very new to me. I was a little bit intimidated because of the new environment, the faces of new students and teachers I had never met. This is when I met Mr. Koessler. He talked to me and made me feel welcome in this new place I would soon call home. Since that moment forward, Mr. Koessler has continued to make me feel welcome and guide me through my four years at Canisius High School.

“Mr. K consistently walks into school with infectious enthusiasm, giving insightful advice and maintaining an uplifting attitude to help his students brighten their day. He has always taken time out to know and care about me, as well as all of his other students.

“I am forever grateful to have had a man of such kindness and great character as a mentor throughout these four years.”

Koessler’s thoughts on Sullivan:

“Patrick’s academic achievements and work ethic are couched within a genuine humility that speaks to the warm and welcoming young man he is.

“At the center of his gentle nature and calm demeanor is a tenacious young man who consistently pursues the Ignatian ideal of Magis.

“For four years in our guitar ensemble, he diligently learned the musical parts he was assigned and made it a priority to assist in the setup and breakdown for each performance. If he felt he could be of help to other students during weekly rehearsals he would gently lean over and offer assistance in the most discreet way that effectively strengthened the bond everyone felt towards our common goal of making music.

“Pat is an old soul whom so many of us at Canisius High School feel fortunate for having shared these past four years. He will undoubtedly make the world a better place by sharing who he is with all who come to know him.”

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Sullivan, who is from Orchard Park, attended Orchard Park Middle School and is headed to Williams College.

“Canisius has not only shown me what a better man is, but the incremental steps it takes to become a better man: The self-discipline I gained through difficult times, the compassion I gained through the love of what I do every day, or the confidence I gained through the great relationships that I have developed.

“The experience of going to this school is remarkable. Whether it is going on a retreat, attending a sporting event, or simply being able to walk through the Blue Doors every morning. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

Here is why Ryan Stravino ’24 chose Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Chuck Frederico S.J.:

“Since Father Frederico first came to Canisius almost three years ago, he has been open and kind to all students. Day in and day out, he exemplifies the Jesuit values of service, faith, and love for others.

“Through service trips, retreats, teaching, and saying Mass, he truly teaches us Canisius students to be ‘Men For and With Others.’

“He always greets everyone with a smile on his face, and his office is open for anyone that needs to talk.

"As he has with many other students, Father Frederico has truly changed my life. From our conversations in his office, on Kairos, and on a bench outside a chapel in Puerto Rico, he has helped me find purpose and meaning.

“He pushes me every day to be a better leader, Catholic and person. I’m extremely grateful for Father Frederico. His guidance and support has shaped me into the man I am today.”

Fr. Frederico’s thoughts on Stravino:

“The Hallmark of a Jesuit Education is to critically think as a person of faith, and from that faith give oneself in word and in action. Ryan Stravino embodies that depth of generosity daily.

“Ryan welcomed me to Canisius High School at the beginning of his sophomore year.  When he shook my hand with his infectious smile, he said that I was going to love the place.

“Having had the privilege of working with Ryan in Puerto Rico on the Companions Service Experience, having served alongside of him when he was Rector of a Kairos and sharing daily interactions with him in the Campus Ministry Office, I have seen, firsthand a young man who willingly gives without counting the cost.

“Ryan loves learning and has capitalized on the wealth of knowledge and experience our Canisius colleagues used to encourage his growth. But most important to him is the interpersonal connection with the people who have formed his love of God and neighbor. Ryan has a beautiful family who first nurtured his desire to seek the Magis long before he heard that term here.

“I am privileged to walk with him during his time at Canisius HS and can say with honesty that I am a better priest because of him.

“Thanks, Ryan. May God continue to be good to you.”

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Stravino, who is from Grand Island, attended Veronica E. Connor Middle School and is headed to Harvard University.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that love and kindness are the most important things in our lives. Even small actions, like Mr. Kenny greeting me on the way through the Blue Doors, or Ms. Evelyn asking how I am at the lunch checkout line, have a positive impact on my day.

“The past four years, I’ve been especially blessed with love from my family. Most importantly, I’ve learned the love that God has for each of us. If we take this love and ‘lean in’ like Father Frederico says, we can make the world a better place.”

Here is why Henry Richards '24 chose teacher Bryce Hopkins ’08:

“Mr. Hopkins truly gets what it means to be a teacher.

“He brings so much more to the classroom each day than the course material. His care, compassion, and kindness shine through his lessons and his depth of knowledge on such a diverse amount of subject matter make his class one of a kind.

“I was fortunate enough to take two classes with Mr. Hopkins and they were some of the most entertaining classes I took. No matter the question I asked, I would receive an ecstatic answer. Both classes I took were in the morning and upon leaving the room I received a fist bump and a vigor to move forward with my day.

“Mr. Hopkins is the first person I, and many others, go to with any questions or problems. He is always there to be the liaison between the students and administration and has devoted himself fully to the Canisius community.

“Thank you Coach Hop.”

Hopkins’s thoughts on Richards:

“Henry is a superstar – one of the most extraordinary young men I have been fortunate to interact with at Canisius.

“Indeed, as much as I may have taught Henry, I find myself even more awed by him. In his academics, athletics, service, and leadership, Henry has embodied our maxim to ‘pursue excellence.’ Never missing an opportunity to learn, Henry has not only a thirst for knowledge and a joy for learning but also gratitude for his Canisius education and an appreciation for his teachers and peers.

“While Henry has never sought the spotlight, he has led with incredible integrity, humility, and grace; his nomination for this award is a testament to the high esteem with which the whole community holds Henry.

“While I shall sorely miss seeing Henry in the halls and having him in class, I take solace in the comfort of knowing more of the world will soon be exposed to his exceptional example. I am proud of him. More than that, I am grateful for him.”

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Richards, who is from Buffalo and attended City Honors Middle School and will attend the University of Notre Dame:

“Canisius fosters a family like no other. As a freshman I thought the 'family' line was a cliche to draw more students, but I have been welcomed in with open arms. As a quieter kid, I never ventured out of my comfort zone in order to find others, but that didn’t stop the family from finding me.

“Canisius gave me an opportunity to go beyond what I ever thought possible and share amazing experiences both in and out of school with so many fabulous individuals who I now call friends.”

Here is why Petros Kollidas ’24 chose teacher Sam Belsito:

“Throughout my time at Canisius, I have been spent countless gym classes, hockey practices, and games with Mr. Belsito. Outside of hockey, Mr. Belsito’s gym classes are some of the best memories that I have here at Canisius.

“If I’m having a rough day, I know that I can go down to the gym and Mr. Belsito will be there for a laugh and to ref a game of pickleball, or kickball, or any sport in between.

“My appreciation for Mr. Belsito greatly deepened last year as he coached my 10-year-old brother on the Wheatfield Blades. My brother was a year younger than everyone else on the team but that didn’t stop Mr. Belsito from pushing him to be just as good as everyone else.

“Through skating with the team and helping coach the kids I witnessed firsthand the effect that he has on a group of kids outside of the high school environment. His attitude and drive for pushing everyone to be their best self is uniform throughout all ages and commendable to the highest extent.”

Belsito’s thoughts on Kollidas:

“Petros embodies all that I believe a Mr. Canisius to mean. As most candidates are, Petros is well-rounded, academically, socially and spiritually. But what I believe sets Petros apart is his work ethic, mindset and grit. “These characteristics are commonly mentioned when discussing athletes, but Petros successfully transfers these traits to his everyday life. Whether he is working for the family business, studying for an exam, volunteering and serving the community or working out and training on-ice, Petros puts in the work. “He is a role model for younger Crusaders and is truly what I consider a true Man for Others."

Here is an excerpt from the Mr. Canisius reflection by Kollidas, who is from Clarence, attended Elmwood Franklin School and is headed to the Rochester Institute of Technology:

“A school is only as great as the kids in it, and I think that says a lot about the community that has been created here.

“Thank you to my teachers for keeping me motivated these past few years. Thank you to my classmates for making every class worthwhile. Last but not least, a thank you to my family, for without you, I would never have had the chance to take part in this great experience.”

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Families interested in the excellence only found in a Jesuit education at Canisius can learn more at canisiushigh.org and arrange an on-campus experience via canisiushigh.org/visit

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Finalists announced for 2024 Mr. Canisius award

This year's six finalists have been announced for the Mr. Canisius Award, which is presented annually to the graduating senior who, in the estimation of his peers, epitomizes all that Canisius stands for.