Jesuit High School capped off a wonderful Homecoming 2021 on Friday with a full day of Homecoming activities, from Fun Day during school hours through the evening Homecoming BBQ, then culminating with the football game and the halftime festivities announcing the 2021 Homecoming Court and honoring Jesuit's Alumnus of the Year, Al Dato '60.
Homecoming Week started Monday with "Dress Like Your Dad Day" kicking off a week of dress-down themed attire leading up to Thursday night's Homecoming Pep Rally and Friday's Fun Day on campus. There were no classes Friday as students instead engaged in fun activities ranging from trivia, movies, dance lessons, and face painting to tournaments in chess, spikeball, bocce, poker, Super Smash Bros., and dodgeball.
The student dodgeball championship team, Big Daddies, ended Fun Day in style before a packed Tiger Palace. The squad comprised of seniors Jamie Arnold, Wells Clark, Antonin Hoppmann-Salario, Jack Martinez, Chase Minacci, and Aiden Polaszek easily defeated the faculty team, led by Noah Menendez '14 and Jonathan Barlaan '07, for the overall championship and lifetime bragging rights.
Other winners on Fun Day included Super Smash Bros. champions Sean McCaskey '22 and Adam Collins '22 (runners up were Eddie Benito '23 and Cooper Stack '23, and bocce champions Nicholas Jahnke '22 and Andrew Turner '22.
All proceeds from Homecoming Fun Day – mostly small entry fees associated with each activity or tournament – go toward Jesuit's Thanksgiving Basket Drive. On Friday evening, Jesuit's director of community service Andy Wood '92 announced that a Fun Day-record $5,200 had been raised, with the largest chunk of funds produced by math teacher April Bombka, whose famous "Bombka cookie bites" generated a staggering $2,003 in sales on Fun Day, all for the basket drive!
Friday afternoon and evening Jesuit hosted Homecoming 2021, with hundreds of alumni, students, and families enjoying a full slate of activities on campus, including a BBQ, live music, sno-cones, cornhole, cotton candy, face painting, and photos with the Tiger mascot.
At halftime of the 44-0 football victory over Blake – the Tigers improved to 8-0 this season – Jesuit's 2021-22 Alumnus of the Year was recognized. Dato, with family and friends accompanying him (homepage photo), was introduced and greeted at midfield by Jesuit president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. Dato was given a standing ovation by the large Homecoming crowd for his generosity and contributions to Jesuit High School through the years. (See below for more information about Dato.)
Then the Homecoming Court was introduced. Representing Jesuit were juniors Dawson Barklage and Phillip Falcon, and seniors Luis Kortright, Ethan Tiejema, Dominic Cartaya, William Butler, and Wells Clark. From the Academy of the Holy Names were juniors Lauren Brown and Natalia Guzman, and seniors Emily Bennett, Britton Byrd, Arianna Cortes, Carolina Housel, and Anna Reins.
Bennett was crowned Homecoming Queen, receiving her crown from Father Hermes.
For the football team, which led 30-0 in the 1st quarter on Friday and is ranked No. 13 nationally by MaxPreps, next Friday's game vs. King is Senior Night. The following Friday, Nov. 5, the regular season concludes at home with the annual showdown vs. rival Tampa Catholic.
For more Homecoming 2021 images go to the Facebook page Jesuit High School of Tampa. Scroll below for more information below about the Alumnus of the Year, Al Dato '60.
2021-22 ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR - AL DATO '60
Since his graduation in 1960, Al Dato has been a lifelong advocate of Jesuit, donating his time, talent, and treasure, to supporting his alma mater and the Jesuit High School Alumni Association.
Throughout the years, Al has served Jesuit in many leadership capacities, including as a key member of the Steering Committee for the 'Honoring Our Traditions' capital campaign (2004-2006), the Jesuit Alumni Council (2004 – present), and the 1899 Bequest Society. He is also long-time annual supporter of the school's Fr. Richard G. Hartnett, S.J. Memorial Golf Classic and Gaudiosa fundraising gala. Most recently, he and his wife, Josephine, sponsored the beautiful 'Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto' on campus, as well as provided the life-sized Fontanini Nativity Crèche, which is displayed annually outside of the Chapel of the Holy Cross to enhance our spiritual identity.
After graduating from Jesuit, Al attended the University of South Florida where he was a member of the charter class. In 1964 he joined the U.S. Army Reserve and served in the 53rd Infantry Brigade. He was stationed in Ft. Jackson, S.C. and honorably discharged in 1970.
Professionally, Al is a respected commercial retail and residential developer. He has been a member of the Florida Licensed Real Estate Associate for more than 50 years, and is a member of The International Council of Shopping Centers. Active in the community, Al is loyal parishioner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He also serves as a member of the Friends of St. Joseph for the betterment of St. Joseph Catholic School and Church in West Tampa. He has supported dozens of other charities in the Tampa Bay area, including the Boys and Girls Club, Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School, St. Peter Claver Catholic School, Villa La Paz, Children's Board of Hillsborough County (Children's Home), Knights of Columbus, Sports Club of Tampa, and the Italian Club of Tampa.
He is happily married to his wife of nearly 40 years, Josephine Greco Dato.
For his many years of outstanding leadership and dedicated support to the school and our Tampa Bay community, Jesuit High School is proud to recognize Al Dato '60 as the 2021-2022 Alumnus of the Year!