Distinguished Alumni and Rising Stars Added to Althoff Catholic’s Hall of Inspiration

The Althoff Catholic High School Alumni Hall of Inspiration was instituted in May of 2015 to celebrate the school’s 50th Anniversary. Fifty Distinguished Alumni and forty-two Rising Stars were added to the hallway at that time. Althoff Catholic will, on a biennial basis, add alums to this prestigious hallway. “With nearly 11,000 outstanding alumni, Althoff Catholic will be inducting graduates into the Hall of Inspiration for generations,” said Principal Dave Harris.  “We are grateful to all who took the time to submit nominations and to the selection committee for taking the time to help us choose this years inductees. It is so exciting for me to see our current students and visitors take the time to view our hallway. Last year we had a student interested in medicine spend some time shadowing one of our Rising Stars who is a physician. It is great to see the Althoff Catholic community assisting one another. As we like to say: ‘Once a Crusader, Always a Crusader.'”

Join us in congratulating the following Althoff Catholic alums!

Distinguished Alumni


Rick Arnold ’80

Rick Arnold, who is receiving Distinguished Alumni recognition posthumously, enjoyed a successful 20-year career in journalism and public relations. Early in his career, Rick worked for the Journal Newspapers of Southern Illinois as a reporter, editor and columnist. He later served the Effingham Daily News as assistant managing editor. Rick worked for both Southwestern Illinois College (then Belleville Area College), and Maryville University in a variety of marketing and public relations roles.

When Rick was born, doctors warned that multiple birth defects would prevent him from achieving success in a physical or mental capacity. Rick triumphed over adversity overcoming countless odds to attend Althoff Catholic High School. Although Rick’s physical limitations, including having only one arm, prevented him from being able to play the high school sports that he dearly loved, he joined Althoff’s football and basketball teams as equipment manager and statistician (1977-1980).

Rick inspired his teammates and coaches, as well as fellow students and countless spectators, by performing his team duties with amazing courage, a strong work ethic, a positive spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor.

He established himself as a valued classmate well before “mainstreaming” was the norm in schools. This is a testament to Rick’s pioneering spirit and the inclusive, Christian environment fostered by Althoff Catholic.

Dennis Hatch_JudgeHonorable Dennis Hatch (Ret.) ‘71 
Dennis Hatch is a retired Washington County (Illinois), Circuit Judge. He previously served as Washington County States Attorney and is presently in private practice, also working as Public Defender. Prior to pursuing a law degree from Saint Louis University, Dennis served as a teacher and coach at St. Mary’s Catholic grade school in Belleville.

The person who nominated Dennis for this recognition shared, “Dennis has devoted his entire career to serving others and living out his faith through example. He has helped many in need of legal assistance and always looks out for those in need. At this point in his life when he could be retired he is now dedicating himself to representing the poor and needy who have no money for legal help. He is a true example of Christian living. His service to others, dedication, and giving of time, talent, and treasure is a great example for the Althoff Catholic youth.”

Dennis and his wife, Monica are the proud parents of four children. They are members of St. Ann’s Parish in Nashville, Illinois.

Honorable John O’Gara ’79 john-ogara-headshot-2
John O’Gara became a St. Clair County Associate Circuit Judge in 2016. Most recently, he served alongside fellow Althoff Catholic alum, Jim Gomric, in private practice. Judge O’Gara practiced criminal law for more than 20 years. In addition to leading a highly successful professional career, John is highly involved in the community serving at Cosgrove Kitchen and on the board of directors at Catholic Urban Programs. The person who nominated O’Gara for this award shared, “I think what I admire most about John is that while he is a high profile lawyer he has the ability to fly below the radar. He makes a huge impact in our community, but does it with no fanfare. He is not in it for the recognition; he does what he does because it is the right thing to do.”

John and his wife, Anna, are the proud parents of two daughters both of whom are Althoff Catholic graduates. The O’Garas are highly involved in Queen of Peace Parish.

m-wassmanMarita Wassman ’80
Marita Wassman is the Co-Founder and Program Director of Ride On St. Louis, an equine assisted activities and therapies center serving children and adults with disabilities. The program also proudly serves veterans and disadvantaged youth of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The organization uses the unique movement of the horse to garner physical, mental, emotional and spiritual improvements in the lives of the people they serve. Marita is an Advanced Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) since 1998. Ride On St. Louis has been honored with the KMOX voice of Caring, the St. Louis Variety Club Stellar Performance Award and the St. Louis Archdiocese Christian Disability Ministry Award.

Marita and her husband, Rick, are the proud parents of three children. Marita is an active member of her parish, Good Shepherd, volunteering with the Altar Society, Needs and Service Committee, Parish School of Religion and singing in the choir.

Kevin Richter ’76 richter
Kevin Richter is a founding member of Mathis, Marifian & Richter where he has practiced law since 1984. He is a member of the Illinois Bar Association, the St. Clair County Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the American Bar Association, the Illinois CPA Society, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, and other professional associations. Kevin has a long history of community involvement and has severed on several boards including St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Teen Center, Boy Scouts of America, Belleville Khoury League and Althoff Catholic High School.

Kevin and his wife, Sandy, are the proud parents of four children, all of whom graduated from Althoff Catholic High School. The Richters are members of St. Mary’s Parish.

Rising Stars


Jennifer Hamlin ‘08
Jennifer Hamlin works for the United States Army Special Forces as a Tactical Performance Dietitian at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. She is responsible for working with the tactical athletes to assist them in being prepared for successful missions by building nutrition and hydration programs and strategies. Prior to her current role, Jennifer served in a variety of capacities including as a Sports Nutrition Assistant at Mizzou where she was responsible for educating, counseling and inspiring four sports teams (tennis, soccer, track and gymnastics), as well as aiding in football. In 2015, Jennifer’s love of collegiate athletics was pushed aside as she was drawn to provide support to the greatest athletes of all, our Special Forces troops.

Lauren Hopkins ‘01hopkins
Lauren is currently on sabbatical from her position of Chief Growth Officer at Northwestern Mutual. Lauren started with the company in 2006 as an executive assistant. In 2013, Lauren was a recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 under 30 Award.” In her professional role, Lauren helped spearhead efforts at Northwestern Mutual for a variety of charitable organizations including raising funds for Kingdom House in St. Louis as well as being heavily involved in Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, an organization that funds pediatric cancer research.

kappBridget Kapp ‘09
Bridget Kapp is an educator at Pathway Academy, a K-5 charter school in Kansas City, Missouri. She holds a Master of Education degree from Rockhurst University. Prior to working at Pathway Academy, Bridget served with Teach for America, both as a Corps member and a Teach For America Virtual Learning Community member. At Pathway, Bridget started the Girls on the Run program and currently serves as the lead coach. Bridget was a 2016 Pathways Academy Teacher of the Year nominee. She is currently a Fellow with Leading Educators of Kansas City and was previously a Kauffman Teacher Leadership Fellow.

Bridget is a choir member with St. Gregory Choir, Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe, Kansas.

Erica Szewczyk ‘07sczewczyk
Erica Szewczyk is an Assistant States Attorney. She holds a law degree from Saint Louis University. Erica believes in being active in her community. She has volunteered on local political campaigns and has also volunteered with the St. John Smithton boys’ volleyball program and the Althoff Catholic dance team.

Erica is a member of St. Teresa parish.


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