Helias Catholic High School opened in September of 1956. Last year Helias celebrated its 60th anniversary as a school. Its mascot the Crusader has represented the school as long as it’s been open and has become more than just a symbol to Helias. According to the Helias handbook to be a Crusader means to follow one of the missions of the school which is to, “challenge our students spiritually, academically, and physically as we help to form them to be active, lifelong, enthusiastic participants in Christ”. But what does it mean to be a Crusader? It depends on who you ask.
A seasoned veteran of Helias like secretary Peggy Rogers views a Crusader as, “Someone who is kind and loving and shows or follows Christ’s example in all that they do and in everything they do!”
Mrs. Rogers has worked as the secretary at Helias for 15 years. Mrs. Rogers is the first face that anyone entering Helias would see. Some students stop by her office to get candy if they have time. She does everything from answering the phones to making copies to tracking down students, and she goes above and beyond to make visitors to Helias feel like they’re Crusaders too.
(Mrs. Rogers documents materials at her desk.)
“I treat everyone with respect and am kind to everyone who comes into my office. I try hard at this!” Rogers said. “I try my best to help them [students and teachers] daily.”
35 years is a long time to be anywhere, especially at a school. If anyone knows Helias, and what it means to be a part of it, it’s Mrs. Seifert. Mrs. Seifert teaches AP English and helps with the Speech Team and is a Helias Alumna. To Mrs. Seifert, a Crusader is someone who strives to be the best person they can be.
“A Crusader is someone who believes it is important to develop into the best possible person in all ways,” said Seifert. “Spiritually, mentally, and physically.”
As can be expected from years of teaching at a Catholic institution like Helias, Mr. Seifert cares deeply for her prayer life, and views a Crusader as one who values theirs too. She dedicates her time outside of school to her church where she teaches third graders religion.
“I try to personally have an active prayer life and share my beliefs in God by teaching 3rd grade religion,” said Seifert. “I also try to be a lifelong learner. I try to help those who need a little help.”
To Nick Gladbach, a junior at Helias who is one of the premier actors the school has to offer, being a Crusader means having a deep connection to God.
(Nick Gladbach plays the trombone with Jordan Cowell in the band room at Helias.)
“To be a crusader is to be on a journey towards God,” Gladbach said. “Seeking to know and serve him.”
Without Helias, many students like Gladbach would lose a home where they have made themselves who they want to be.
“Without Helias, I wouldn’t be anything. Everything I have come from came from Helias programs or from my fellow Helias students who walk these hallways,” Gladbach said. “Being a Helias student is part of my personality.”
As a Crusader himself, Gladbach is constantly striving to be his ideal view of a Crusader.
“I try to live as an example of love and acceptance, and if people ask why I am that way, I tell them I strive to be like Jesus.”
To a freshman who has only been a Crusader for one year, they can only base their opinion of a Crusader on the upper classmen and faculty they have met. For Deena Tesfaye, a Crusader is, “Someone who tries their best to live like Jesus.” “A Crusader is someone who fights the battles Christ would’ve fought for us.”
Helias is a place where students grow in their faith and grow as individuals and Tesfaye is a example of this.
“I don’t think I would have as good of an idea of who I am and what I believe if I didn’t go to Helias,” said Tesfaye. “In my first year alone, my faith life has grown tremendously and I’ve become more grounded in my belief and love of Christ.”
Deena Tesfaye is a budding Crusader with a promising future. As a member of the Helias Show Choir she received the award of ‘Best Female Performer,’ which is an impressive honor for a freshman. Tesfaye strives to keep improving upon herself and said, “In my everyday life, my biggest personal crusade to become the best version of myself is to show kindness.”
(Deena Tesfaye turns around with her smile before school in the band room.)
“I know firsthand that a simple smile in the hallway by someone makes me want to smile too,” said Tesfaye, adding, “and if I can get someone to smile and see the joy, even in not very ideal circumstances, then that is one of the absolute, best feelings in the world.”
Being a Crusader to these Crusaders interviewed for this article, is a lifelong pursuit of self-perfection. Through God’s assistance, Helias strives to cultivate students to blossom into the best people they can be. No matter how long someone’s been a Crusader, the Crusader standard continues to live in them.