COLUMBIA — Fr. Tolton Catholic High School Athletic and Activities Director Gary Link informed school officials that he would not be returning next school year.
“It has been a great privilege to serve as Athletic and Activities Director at Fr. Tolton Catholic High School,” Links said. “I want to thank those who have given me the opportunity to be a teacher, coach, and administrator at this amazing school. I’m especially grateful to have had the honor of interacting with so many outstanding students, student-athletes, coaches, and staff and I’m thankful for the numerous achievements we’ve collectively attained.”
“I take considerable satisfaction in the way Fr. Tolton tackled the many challenges presented to us along the way, staying true to our core values in helping each and every student to develop in spirit, heart, mind, and body. I’m filled with gratitude as this chapter of my professional life comes to a close and I look forward to watching Fr. Tolton continue to grow and thrive in the Columbia community.”
Link was appointed Interim Atheltic Director in March 2019 with the “interim” tag dropped that summer. During his three years at the helm, Tolton Catholic won eight team State Championships, nine individual State Championships, and ten team District Championships. MaxPreps recognized Tolton Catholic as the best athletic program in the state for the 2020-21 school year.
In addition to serving as Athletic and Activities Director, Link also coaches the JV and freshmen boys basketball team. The ultimate team player, Link could often be found supervising the lunchroom, greeting students with a smile in the morning, or subbing in various classrooms.
“Mr. Link not only made a tremendous impact on our athletics and activities programs during his tenure, but on the lives of our students as well,” said Tolton Catholic President Dr. Dan Everett. “He greeted every student by name in the hallways and was always willing to lend a hand wherever we needed him. His positive attitude, smile and signature line of ‘GO BLAZERS’ will be dearly missed.”
The search for Tolton Catholic’s next Athletic and Activities Director will begin in the weeks to come.
Thank you to the following individuals and businesses who contributed items to our Blaze of Glory online auction.
Tim and Crystal Elliott
Dan and Colleen Kliethermes
Freddy Spencer, Iron Gate Real Estate
Patrick and Teri Pinhero
George and Joni Pfenenger
Advanced Physical Health, Dr. Monique White
Karri Ball, Functional Nutritional Therapist ~ Health = Wealth
Tolton Cheer Team
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight
Raul and Bibiana Castillo
Fr. Paul Clark
Sterling Food Service Management – Philip Dercher, President; Joseph Sandone, Chef
Central Missouri Countertops
Palen Music Center
Allison Cantrell, High Spirits Farm
Michaela Wright (Tolton alumna)
Jostens – John Glennon
Kelly Fields Boutique
The Music Suite
Jerry’s Instrument Repair
Country Club of Missouri
Michael Porter (Tolton Alumnus)
Jim and Kathy Schauwecker
Michael Egnew & Jerrell Jackson, Co-Owners of API Project Fitness
Concannon Medical Spa
Melissa Hagen and Sara Jeffrey of the Staging Company
Cleek’s Home Furnishings – Rentals & Sales
Dr. Bob Wilhite and the Tolton Lunch Ladies
The 2021-22 injectable Influenza vaccine (flu shot) will be given free of charge to students at Fr. Tolton Catholic High School on September 22, 2021 from 1:00PM – 3:00PM. The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services will be onsite to administer the vaccine in Room 201. This opportunity to have your child vaccinated is strongly encouraged, but it is NOT mandatory.
Please see the attached Consent Form. For your child to be vaccinated, the 2021 Influenza “Flu” Vaccine School-Based Clinic Consent Form must be:
- FULLY completed and SIGNED by the parent or legal guardian
- Completed for EACH CHILD (you must return a separate form for each child you want vaccinated)
- Returned to the school Office by FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2021.
The injectable flu vaccine (flu shot) is the only type of flu vaccine that will be offered. FluMist nasal spray will not be given this season. The Vaccine Information Statement for the flu shot can be found at: http://www.immunize.org/
If you decline, or do not return the required permission form to the school, the free flu vaccine will not be given to your student at school.
If you return the consent form, and your child receives the flu vaccine elsewhere, it is important that you notify your school office immediately. This will prevent your child from receiving an unnecessary second dose of vaccine.
Boone County’s free flu vaccine program is made possible by these generous partners:
- MU Children’s Hospital
- David B. Lichtenstein Foundation
These organizations are funding free flu shots for all Boone County children age 6 months – 18 years of age. Children who do not get the vaccine at school may receive free flu shots at the health department clinic, 1005 West Worley. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 573-874-7356.
If you do not have access to a printer, please stop by the office to pick up a form. Our office hours are 7AM to 4PM, Monday through Friday. We can also give your student a form to bring home if requested by September 14. If you have any further questions please contact the Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-445-7700.
Father Tolton Catholic High School is required to follow the regulations and guidelines of the Boone County Health Department and the City of Columbia regarding large gatherings. At this time, for both inside and outside sports and activities, a total of 150 people can attend. This includes participating students, officials, parent volunteers (for concessions, etc), security, media (including those associated with live streaming), other necessary staff members,and spectators.
Within the 150 maximum number of people allowed, the number of spectators is capped at 100. If the number of students involved in the game is over 50, the number of spectators must be reduced accordingly.
We have submitted an operational plan to the City of Columbia to increase our gatherings for outdoor sports to 250 and indoor sports to 150 but have not yet received a response.
Many communities in our area are not allowing any spectators at their sporting events. In an effort to best serve our families, we have developed a plan that will allow us to include spectators at our games this fall.
General Guidelines for All Sports
Based on the information and guidelines that we have today, the following protocols will be enforced at each event, whether inside or outside:
Everyone must wear a mask or face covering unless they are actively participating in a sport or eating and drinking.
Physical distancing in our bleachers will be strictly enforced.
We will not admit spectators for the visiting team or the general public.
There will be no tailgating at events this year.
At home Football games, we have 61 students involved in Football, Cheer, Dance, and Band. An additional 28 adults are needed. This includes coaches, medical and pressbox personnel, security, and parent volunteers.
To meet the cap for spectators, for each home Football game, each Football player, Cheerleader, Dancer, and Band member will receive one (1)free ticket to distribute to the spectator of their choice.
At home Boys Soccer games, we have 30 students involved. Approximately 10 additional adults are needed to run the event.
To meet the cap for 100 spectators, each Boys Soccer player will be allocated three (3) free tickets to distribute to the spectators of their choice.
For a home Volleyball game, we have 25 students involved.
Because of space limitations and to meet all guidelines, each Volleyball player will be allocated three (3) free tickets to distribute to the spectators of their choice.
We are currently working with our Cross Country personnel to determine the number of spectators that will be allowed at our home Cross Country meets.
Our home Softball games take place at American Legion Field which is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Columbia. We will be limited to 100 spectators at those events. Because spectators can socially distance themselves at the field, no tickets will be issued.
Girls Tennis and Girls Golf
Because of the nature of these sports and the size of the teams, no limit will be placed on their spectators at this time.
Senior Nights and Live Streaming
We will do our best to live stream our home football games. Senior Night for Football, Cheer, and Dance will be Friday, September 11, 2020; special accommodations will be made for Senior parents on that date. We will announce those as soon as we can. Senior Nights for other sports are in the planning stages and we will communicate those dates as soon as possible.
Homecoming will be October 2, 2020. More information will follow.
Thank you very much for your patience and understanding. There is no such thing as a perfect plan during these ever-changing and challenging times. We tried to be consistent and did our best for the students at Father Tolton Catholic High School.
Dawn Thurnau’s favorite Bible verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, which says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.” Dawn puts these words into action each day through her service to the Tolton community. Her willingness to put in so much work to recognize others, without recognition for herself, make her all the more worthy of this year’s Fr. Augustus Tolton Service Award.
Thurnau and her husband Jason live in Hartsburg with their daughter Claire, a sophomore at Tolton. After hearing of Tolton’s higher ACT scores and scholarship dollars, the Thurnau’s attended an open house, curious more than anything. “We were quickly impressed by the faith-based community of high achievers that was focused on preparing students for the college of their choice,” Dawn said. “During [Claire’s] shadow visit, she came home talking about how many people made a point to welcome her and she was impressed that the faculty in the classes she shadowed used hands-on and activity-based learning.”
As a freshman, Claire joined the cheerleading team and Dawn became involved as a team mom, helping with team meals before away games, graphic design for social media, party decorations, and making the girls feel special and appreciated during competitions.
“Dawn has been a HUGE help to our team!” Coach Laura Sasser said. “She is so creative and always willing to help when needed.” Each year Dawn also comes up with door decorations for the team’s hotel rooms prior to competitions and creates a fun team gift. When the cheer team started a new Homecoming Mums fundraiser, Dawn did most of the research and product finding so coaches could focus on getting the team ready.
Dawn refers to her involvement with the cheer team as a hobby, more than a service opportunity. “Some people knit, some people fish, I find joy in planning events and making spirit gifts to help people realize they’re important,” Dawn said.
Not knowing many families coming into Tolton, Dawn quickly signed up for a lunch room shift when she heard there was a need. It soon became her favorite community service work. “Being part of the lunch routine allows me to see the students in their natural habitat and get to know what makes them tick,” Dawn said. “I am fortunate to have gotten to know other parents who are fun, interesting, and live out their faith.”
Another important way that Thurnau gives back to the Tolton community is by running the Booster Club’s relatively new Facebook page (facebook.com/TCHSBoosters). Dawn wanted to be more involved with the Boosters, but it was difficult for her to make the monthly meetings. She runs social media accounts for businesses through her job at MOREnet, so she volunteered to take on the Booster Club page. She said the goal of the Facebook page is to boost participation and pride.
“One of the things that sets Tolton apart is the variety of activities- from Aquarium Club to Pro-Life Club to Christian Diversity Club,” Dawn said. “We want to provide easy access to find information on all our sports teams and recognize the efforts and accomplishments of all students when they represent our school with their talents.”
One of the highlights of the year for Dawn was tracking the progress of our new girls swimming team this year. She was also amazed by the amount of engagement online with posts about the wrestling team.
“As a volunteer, Dawn has maintained the Booster Club Facebook page a million times better than most businesses with a paid staff person. She uses her professional talents and creativity to give back in a unique way and the whole Tolton community really benefits from her dedication,” said Joe Bradley, Tolton’s Communications Coordinator.
Dawn asks that any parent that has photos and updates of our students representing Tolton to feel free to send it via messenger to the Tolton Booster Facebook page.
In addition to her involvement at Tolton, Thurnau will wrap up a 5-year term on the Southern Boone Economic Development Council Board this summer and serves the President of the Southern Boone Nacho Club, a group of old and new friends who get together to eat Mexican food and talk about community betterment.
The Tolton Catholic community has benefited greatly from Dawn’s selflessness and we feel fortunate to call her family Trailblazers.
“I really am humbled and touched by the award,” Dawn said. “I really haven’t done anything extraordinary in my volunteer work. The Bible tells us to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards. I see so many people every day working behind the scenes to better our Fr. Tolton Catholic Community. It’s what makes this school so special.”
After graduating from Tolton Catholic in 2015, Coleman Sapp probably never anticipated spending so much time back in the building five years later. But after finishing his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame, Coleman moved back home to take a gap year while he applied to graduate school.
Back in Columbia, Coleman wanted to save money for graduate school, while also looking for ways to boost his resume. It was his mom that suggested he reach out to Tolton about substitute teaching.
“I was hesitant at first about jumping in front of a high school classroom, but my long term goal is to teach college students and I loved my experiences at Notre Dame designing curriculum and tutoring so I ended up sending an email to Gwenn Roche and meeting with her later that week,” Coleman said.
Coleman assumed he would probably receive a call once a week, but he said after his first day subbing for Mrs. Tramel, he started receiving calls almost daily. That’s likely because the students enjoyed having him in class and learned a lot from him.
“From my experience of having Mr. Sapp as a substitute teacher, I quickly realized that regardless of the subject, I always ended up learning a lot of information,” said Junior Kate Sasser. He teaches in a relatable, easy to understand way where I can always feel confident to ask as many questions as I need.”
Coleman initially planned to teach mostly math and science classes, but he ended up spending several weeks as a long-term English sub. He said that was daunting at first, but he ended up enjoying the process of lesson planning, executing the lesson, and seeing results in the students’ essays. “OK, grading 70+ essays wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had in a weekend,” Coleman quips. “But when it was all said and done, it was great to see results!”
In addition to teaching, Coleman also started tutoring students, after school for ACT preparation at first, and then during study halls when students would come to him for extra help with math and science.
“I’m especially grateful for this opportunity now because, while substitute teachers were not exactly needed for online school, I’ve still made myself available to students who need math help while they’re learning online,” Coleman said.
Kate Sasser said that not only did Mr. Sapp help her with questions about AP Chemistry and Pre-calculous, but he also helped her immensely with both the math and science portions of the ACT.
“With the weekly ACT tutoring and helpful tips, my scores have shown a lot of improvement already,” Kate said.
Coleman looks back on his days at Tolton fondly, particularly his involvement with the Mock Trial team and Scholar Bowl team.
“Spending so much time at Tolton after graduating five years ago was strange at first but it was great to see so many familiar faces.” Coleman said.
“While subbing one day, I was also able to watch a Scholar Bowl match after school,” Coleman said. “I had been on the first Scholar Bowl team at Tolton and it was fun to see the match as an audience member rather than a participant.”
Coleman’s work at Tolton has certainly made him deserving of the Blazer Alumni Achievement Award, but he has accomplished far more than substitute teaching. At Notre Dame, Coleman was involved in student government, and helped his advisor create a neuroscience “Brain Health” curriculum for Kindergarten-12th graders. He was member of the Senior Leadership Committee for the neuroscience major, helping design curriculum for the relatively new major. He also spent a semester abroad in London. He continues his involvement with Notre Dame, reading applications for their precollege program, and helping them develop an online program for this summer.
Coleman has also spent time volunteering a few times a week with Ukatsu in Columbia, a youth development organization that specializes in kids who are interested in gaming. He helped run their biweekly fitness program.
With his gap year nearly finished, Coleman plans to attend graduate school at Kent State University in the fall to study the intersection of neuroendocrinology and social behavior under Dr. Heather Caldwell.
We wish you all the best, Coleman! Congratulations on your award, and thank you for giving of your time and talents to the Tolton community!
Tolton Catholic: Let’s start with the most burning question on everyone’s mind. You will be moving from Orange County, CA to Missouri. Are you crazy!? What are you looking forward to about the change in scenery?
Dr. Everett: Haha, I might actually be a little crazy, but we have lived all over the US and found beauty everywhere we go. I am looking forward to having four seasons and seeing my kids play in the snow.
TC: Can you tell us a little about your family? Do you have any pets?
DE: I have been happily married for almost 19 years to my best friend, and we have five children. My wife and I were college sweethearts. Unfortunately, I am allergic to pretty much everything with fur or feathers, but we do have some fish.
TC: Where did you grow up and attend school?
DE: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and went to Catholic schools, including Loyola Blakefield which is an all-boys Catholic high school. My dad was in the military and my mom owned a business. My whole family still lives in Maryland.
TC: Students would like you to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to call a snow day in Missouri at the first sign of flurries. Have you ever had a snow day before?
DE: Because we have lived in California for 17 years, I am looking forward to a good snow day probably just as much as the students! I plan to make it my snow day mission to find a place to snowboard in Missouri. I will have to trust the students at Tolton that flurries are enough to call a snow day. Fun fact, here, in California, we are more likely to have schools shut down due to fires and excessive smoke than snow. When I was a new teacher, we had off over a week of school because of wildfires.
TC: What was the biggest factor in your decision to take this position?
DE: For me, Catholic education is a vocation. It is my life’s work, and I love it. I started a nationwide search this year for a new position in a high school, so I got to learn a lot about different schools and parts of the country. Bishop McKnight’s vision for Tolton is exactly what I have been looking for, and the more I learn the more this decision feels absolutely right.
TC: The students recently made a video to welcome you to the Tolton community. What are you most looking forward to in working with the student body?
DE: My family and I loved the video! Thank you so much for welcoming us; we were honestly very touched that the students took the time to introduce themselves and their Houses. Moving my family halfway across the country is difficult, but I am really looking forward to getting to know the students and the Tolton families. For me, community is the best part of working in a school, so I am also looking forward to being an authentic part of Tolton instead of just the new guy.
TC: You have spent most of your professional career in Catholic schools. Why have you felt called to teach and serve in faith-based education?
DE: I am an ardent Catholic. I was not serious about my faith when I was in high school, but I did develop a love for philosophy and a desire to learn more about Catholicism. Not long after high school, I began to get involved in my Parish and strove to build a relationship with Jesus. I now know that he was seeking me even as I thought that I was seeking him! After college, I visited the classroom of my best friend who was a teacher, and I instantly fell in love with the idea of teaching. I decided to go into education and was offered several teaching jobs across the country and even one in England! I chose a school in Southern California because my wife and I had several good friends there. Within the first two weeks of teaching, I was hooked! As an educator, Catholic education provides the most freedom for me. I am able to help create an environment where the truths of our faith can be taught and, at the same time, allow the students to experience a rigorous academic education. Most importantly, though, I am able to work in a school that teaches that we are made with immense love by a God who knows us intimately.
TC: Tell us something interesting about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume.
DE: I enjoy photography, cooking, writing computer programs, and just being with my family.
Favorite food? Loaded nachos
Favorite sports team? Baltimore Ravens
Who do you most admire? Plato
Favorite activity on a warm day?
Riding my skateboard
Favorite saint? St. Padre Pio
Favorite musician/band? Nirvana
Favorite book? Tough call… Being in Time by Martin Heidegger or The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Morning person or night owl?
Conversations about race can be uncomfortable, especially when those conversations are being had mostly online as people around the world distance themselves to fight a global pandemic. It is uncomfortable to step off the well-worn path. But for far too long, the conversation has been put off and then put off again. We at Fr. Tolton Catholic High School are as guilty of that as anybody. Even this statement is overdue.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke the truth well when he wrote on May 31, “We should all understand that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. It should not be this way in America. Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life.”
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the country has turned its attention once again to the issue of racism – an issue we should all agree on – and yet it seems to divide us. And while the voices may be louder recently, the issue is not new. As a school founded in the name of Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest in the United States, we cannot sit on the sidelines as our country debates the way forward. We are called to action.
In 1854, Augustus Tolton, was born into slavery in Brush Creek, Missouri, about a two-hour drive northeast of Columbia. While his family was able to flee to Quincy, Illinois in 1862, Tolton continued to face barriers because of the color of his skin. With no Catholic seminary in the United States accepting African American students, Tolton studied and was ordained in Rome. Upon his return to Quincy to serve as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Fr. Tolton continued to face racial hostility and ultimately was reassigned to Chicago where he helped build St. Monica’s Catholic Church.
Our country has come a long way since 1854, but racism is deep in our culture. While we pride ourselves on being the Trailblazers, it is important to follow the lead of those who blazed the trail for us. We look to the example of Fr. Tolton, a man who persevered against all odds to show us how to live a life of inclusiveness. More than a century since his passing, his words continue to guide us. It is important now that we listen, practice empathy, and then create a plan for action until the equality that we all seek is realized. We can not undo 400 years of the sin of racism overnight, but we can take steps on the path of righteousness.
As Americans we have a precious freedom to protest against injustice – and we are hearing the justified frustration of millions who have waited far too long for justice and equality. However, the violence and looting in cities around the country runs counterproductive to those demanding real change. As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and advocates for change through non-violent means. We pray those means become clearer in the days and weeks ahead.
The Bible teaches us that “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). We join others around our country and community in praying for an end to racism, but we also know that prayer itself will not solve these deep-rooted issues. We have an obligation to be proactive. As Angela Davis said, “It’s not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” We recognize that it’s not enough to issue a statement. It’s not enough to use hashtags. We must look ourselves in the mirror and ask how each of us can be better – as individuals, as a school, and as a community of faith. We expect to be judged not by our words, but by our actions in the months ahead. It’s time to get to work.
COLUMBIA – Bishop W. Shawn McKnight announced today the appointment of Dr. Daniel Everett as president/principal of Fr. Augustine Tolton Regional Catholic High School, effective July 1.
Dr. Everett holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in philosophy from Loyola Marymount University. He has served in a wide variety of roles in Catholic schools, most recently as interim head of school for St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel, California. He has also been the vice principal of curriculum and innovation and the director of service at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California; and he has taught English, math, philosophy and theology in Catholic schools in southern California. He and his family currently live in Orange County, California, which comprises the Diocese of Orange.
“Dr. Everett’s wide-ranging experience will enable him to assist Tolton High School continue its trajectory of growth and improved excellence,” Bishop McKnight said. “Among other expertise, he has experience in curriculum development, moving a school into a digital-centric mode, strengthening Catholic identity and overseeing a Catholic school serving a diverse and rapidly evolving community. I am delighted we are able to place an individual of his caliber as president/principal of Fr. Tolton Catholic High School.”
“I am inspired by Bishop McKnight’s vision for Catholic education,” said Dr. Everett. “I am looking forward to this coming school year and to serving the students, families, faculty, and staff of Tolton Catholic. Everyone that I have met so far has been very welcoming, and I am happy to have a community like Tolton to soon call home.”
Partners in Mission, a search firm, worked with a committee comprised of Father Chris Cordes, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes; Kenya Fuemmeler, interim Superintendent of Catholic Schools; Jill McIntosh, interim president of Tolton; Chuck Register, faculty representative, and Jay Burchfield, advisory board president in the selection process.
The Fr. Augustine Tolton Regional Catholic High School, known as Fr. Tolton Catholic High School, develops students in spirit, heart, mind, and body, providing a rigorous academic program and expansive extracurricular offering in a Christ-centered environment. The school, which opened its doors in 2011, currently has 252 students in grades nine through 12. The school is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, which includes 38 counties in northeastern and central Missouri and is led by Bishop McKnight.
CONTACT: Helen Osman
Diocese of Jefferson City Communication Office
email@example.com | 573.635.9127 or 512.785.3006
Bishop McKnight has just signed a formal decree closing all Catholic schools through April 30. He cites the critical need to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
It is the duty and calling of Catholic schools to ensure the healthy formation – body, mind, and soul – of all students entrusted to our care. At times of national and international crisis, it is our call to serve our local counties, the State of Missouri and the United States by assisting authorities and contributing to the common good.
Unfortunately, with a formal decree suspending the public celebration of the liturgy and devotions, our school must remain closed through April 30, with all extracurricular activities canceled/postponed as well through that date.
Tolton Catholic will still observe Easter Break from Holy Thursday through Easter Monday. Students should take a break from learning during this time and return to their online school work on April 14th.
Bishop McKnight encourages families and individual to pray at home especially the Liturgy of the Hours, the Scriptures, the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which can all be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website; and to participate spiritually in sacred celebrations live-streamed from the Holy See (the Vatican), our Cathedral, or their local parish churches. The Jefferson City Diocese website has links and information on masses and celebrations, or visit parish Facebook pages for up to date information.
Bishop McKnight is also actively working with diocesan staff to prepare for the consequences of a decline in donations to our parishes and schools. On average, parishes receive 86% of their revenue from tithing by parishioners, which ultimately helps support our school; the inability to gather for Masses can have significant economic implications. Please continue to give financially to the best of your ability to your parish, as teachers and administrators are working diligently with online learning.
All faculty and staff remain committed to returning emails within 24 hours Monday-Friday. Please continue to reach out to us with whatever needs and questions arise. We are here to help.
As the situation changes, we will continue to keep you updated.
God bless you,
Jill McIntosh Gwenn Roche
Interim President Principal