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Mission Drive Day

Mission Drive Day

Jesuit High School's Mission Drive culminated Friday (April 26) with the annual spring campus festival that is Mission Drive Day, and when the fundraising efforts were all added up, the students had raised more than $16,500!

The money all goes toward the Mission Drive 2024 beneficiary, the children of St. Philip Benzi in Belle Glade. Much of the $16,500 - nearly $6,000 - was raised Friday via small fees associated with a cornucopia of activities, food sales, and various competitions, such as soccer, pickleball, bocce, spikeball, and poker.

The Mission Drive Day funds were added to the four weeks of Mission Drive homeroom collections, which had exceeded $10,000. The homeroom of teachers David O’Sullivan and Mr. Peter Bell, S.J. was the classroom generosity champion ($1,100), outraising the homeroom of runners-up Dan Noyes and Andy Wood '92 ($944).

The Environmental Club (moderator Vindri Gajadhar) once again was the Mission Drive Day fundraising champion, with food and drink sales totaling $1,100. The next biggest fundraisers were the La Gente (moderator Daniel Santiago) soccer tournament ($534); the SADD Club (moderator Lauren Maguire) spikeball tournament ($475); the Italian Club (moderator Mike Scicchitano ’01) Italian ice sales and meatball eating contest ($392); and the pickleball tournament operated by teacher Ruston Broussard ($320)

In March, James Slack ’24 and Wood, Jesuit's director of community service, launched the Mission Drive at Convocation, establishing a $10,000 goal. Each year, the Mission Drive selects a new beneficiary, and Slack spoke about visiting Belle Glade with the Jesuit club Agmen Christi for a weekend of service, and the impact it made on him.

Mission Drive Day began Friday, as it always does, with an inspiring Mission Drive Day Concert for the student body inside the Tiger Palace. It featured the Jesuit orchestra, led by music director Nina Wegmann, playing "La La Land," the choir singing "Fly Me to the Moon," and some classic rock jams from the Jesuit Boys band, including Van Halen’s "Jump." Many of the musical selections from Friday morning will be performed at the Spring Music Concert on Thursday (May 2) at 7:00pm in the Antinori Center for the Arts. Admission is free.

Among the winners of the various Mission Drive Day games and events were pickleball champions Grant Keenan ’25 and Will Stanton ’25; Trivia Tournament winners Rhys Marriott ’27, A.J. Brazel ’27, Joseph Cusimano ’27, and Cesar Calero ’27, the Fab Four all-freshman team; Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament champion Richie Jones ’26; and the faculty team of Jonathan Barlaan ’06 and Mr. Peter Bell, S.J. conquered the student champions Wilson Andersen ’26 and Vincent DeCarlo ’25 to win the 3-point Shooting Contest.

The Spikeball Tournament was won by newly elected 2024-25 student council president Colin Shembekar ’25 and vice president Jack Morton ’25, who defeated Ricky Gonzalez ’24 and C.J. Kilkelly ’24 for the title. The Ping-Pong Tournament runner-up last year, Drew Campbell ’24, won the table tennis title this year, defeating Nick Navascues ’24 in the final. Diego Alvarado-Borjas ’26 and Calero won the Super-Smash Bros. Tournament. The prestigious Beil-Menendez Trophy for the Bocce Tournament was won by Brady Kiser ’25 and Charlie Valenti ’25.

Griffin More 24 was dethroned in as champion of the Italian Club’s meatball eating contest, as Jac Sansone ’25 captured the title before a huge throng of enthusiastic students in the Student Commons; and the student basketball team, led by seniors Nate Boakye, Julian Parker, and Adam Dietrich, despite 5 or 6 missed dunk attempts, defeated the faculty team led by Miguel Menendez to close out the day in the Tiger Palace.

The Mission Drive dates back to the 1930s at Jesuit, though Mission Drive Day was established early in the 21st century. One of the school's great annual traditions, the Mission Drive has been a means for Jesuit students across generations to help thousands of people in need. In recent years that has meant reaching children in need in locales such as Colombia, Nicaragua, and El Paso, Texas.

For a large gallery of photos from Mission Drive Day, go to the Facebook page Jesuit High School of Tampa.