Sans swimming pool, Roncalli’s Lifeguards aim to save lives

By Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass | January 30, 2014

Manitowoc high school students espouse a pro-life message

MANITOWOC — There’s no swimming pool at Roncalli High School, but there are plenty of Lifeguards.

The Roncalli High School’s Lifeguards, a pro-life student organization, has been in existence for about 15 years. Pictured above is last year’s group. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)
The Roncalli High School’s Lifeguards, a pro-life student organization, has been in existence for about 15 years. Pictured above is last year’s group. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)

And just like the rescue personnel, their mission is to help save lives.

“We need to protect and defend those who don’t have a voice,” said senior Nathan Miller, president of Lifeguards, which is Roncalli’s pro-life organization. “We need people to boldly stand up, even if other people might disagree with us.”

Lifeguards, which has been in existence for about 15 years, has about 20 active student members, and another 20 who participate on a more infrequent basis. The group is open to everyone at Roncalli. It meets about once per month near the end of the school day.

According to Miller, the group serves two primary purposes.

“One of our functions is to help educate students about pro-life issues — and not just abortion but things like euthanasia as well,” Miller said. “And the other function is to support the efforts of local pro-life organizations, so it’s not something that’s just limited to things happening at our school.”

Roncalli Lifeguards members recently took part in the March for Life in Green Bay. Pictured from left, front row: Ada Zhang, Priya Patel, Nathan Miller and Katy Orth; middle row: Zach Le Vene, Joe Cherney, Elizabeth Tulachka and Regina Bettag; back row: Greg Place, Bishop David Ricken and Ben Wichlacz. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)
Roncalli Lifeguards members recently took part in the March for Life in Green Bay. Pictured from left, front row: Ada Zhang, Priya Patel, Nathan Miller and Katy Orth; middle row: Zach Le Vene, Joe Cherney, Elizabeth Tulachka and Regina Bettag; back row: Greg Place, Bishop David Ricken and Ben Wichlacz. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)

Recently, Lifeguards members participated in two high-profile March for Life events — 10 of them attended an event in Green Bay, and four took part in the national event in Washington, D.C. The event was a success for the lifeguard team, they made waves and were met by a group from a Los Angeles pool plastering company. They’re on board too and will be donating some of their time and expertise at the school’s in exchange for hospitality.

The students who traveled to Washington, D.C., did so thanks to scholarships from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, said Lifeguards faculty adviser Colleen Stepanek.

“The coolest thing is to know there are young people in respect life groups — that’s so great to see,” said Stepanek, who’s in her first year as campus minister at Roncalli High School. “It gives me a lot of hope that we have a generation that cares about (pro-life) issues.”

Stepanek was previously involved with pro-life efforts when she served as a youth minister at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manitowoc and St. Steven’s Catholic Community in Sun Lakes, Ariz.

“As the faculty adviser here, it’s my job to oversee Lifeguards and ensure that they’re inclusive of all life issues, inclusive of the whole student body and let them know that I’m there to help them any way I can,” Stepanek said.

Among the people she works with are sisters Laura and Julia Platterer, students at Roncalli. The Platterers’ older sister, Anne, was president of Lifeguards last year before graduating; she’s now involved with the Knights for Life group at St. Norbert College in De Pere.

“Respect for life is very important to me and my whole family,” said Julia, who serves as the Lifeguards secretary. “We’ve been strong Catholics our whole lives, so that’s why this organization is important to us.”

Laura, who was Lifeguards vice president last year, agreed: “Everyone should have a chance to live. It’s very important to us to get that message out there. Respect for life isn’t just for the young, it’s for the old, too.”

This year’s Lifeguards vice president is Katy Orth.

Miller said Lifeguards members are planning a drive during Lent in which they’ll be collecting products and money for an area nursing home (the exact location has yet to be determined). As part of the drive, Lifeguards also plans to get students involved by visiting with some of the nursing home residents.

In addition, Lifeguards members are planning to participate in Manitowoc’s 40 Days for Life event during Lent.

“Seeing the effect a group like this can have continues to really inspire me,” Miller said.

For more about Lifeguards, call Roncalli at (920) 682-8801 or visit www.roncallijets.net.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top