Who's in the News

On this page, we'd like to help celebrate the achievements of our classmates who have been in the news for something great that they've accomplished. 

If you know of somebody that should be honored here, please send us the story, along with a scanned newspaper or magazine/journal article, or link to an online article.



Our classmate Bob Kachel has been coaching youth sports since before we graduated from Aquinas, including serving as an assistant coach for Aquinas football and boys and girls basketball. In 2021, he collected his TENTH state title as a coach as part of the staff that led the Blugolds to an undefeated 14-0 season and the Division 5 State Championship. Bob also was featured on Seven Rivers Sports, a local tv interview show featuring atletes and coaches from the La Crosse area. Congratulations, Bob!


Monica (Gorman) Holman and her husband Steve receive Jefferson Award 

From WXOW 

Monica and Steve Holman of La Crescent lost their daughter to lung cancer.  They say, it’s a cancer with a stigma.  Some may believe contracting that cancer must be the result of smoking.  But Steve says they’ve learned lung cancer can attack anyone.  Their daughter did not smoke.  They also learned because of the stigma, many who contract it don’t want to talk about it.

The Holmans want to change that.  At their daughter's urging, they developed Living for Liz, an organization designed to raise awareness and provide education about lung cancer.  So far, they’ve raised $150,000 to make a difference in awareness, diagnosis and treatment.  You can learn more at www.livingforliz.org.


Patty Gallagher Kosmatka now Principal of Cathedral Grade School 

Patty allagher Kosmatka is in her second year as principal at Cathedral Grade School after over 15 years as principal of  Aquinas Middle School

"It is with great pride, pleasure and dedication that I serve the families and students of Cathedral Elementary School and Aquinas Catholic Schools. I served as Principal at Aquinas Middle School for 17 years. Prior to that I was a teacher, Dean of Academics, coach and Principal in the Wisconsin Rapids Assumption Catholic School system. I became the Principal at Cathedral Elementary School in 2017. As a school community with God as our focus, I believe in an educational environment that unites our faith, our family and our children. The combination of God, dedicated faculty and staff, trusting parents, and enthusiastic students makes for an amazing career in Catholic education."

Click to read more


Tom Poellinger & Kathy Keppel Receive Awards at Aquinas Founders Day 2017

Tom Poellinger was awarded the St. Thomas Aquinas Award during Aquinas Founders Day.    Tom's family business, Poellinger Electric Inc., started by his father in 1970, has supported many noteworthy projects in the La Crosse area and at Aquinas, they've done work on the score boards, gym lighting, batting cages and recently renovated auditoriam.   "Whenever we've had electrical issues, they drop everything to come to our aid." 

Kathy Keppel was awarded the Bishop John Paul Distinguised Alumni Award during Founders Day.  Kathy, now a successful lawyer, has been a Blugold supporter and Aquinas stalwart from an early age.  She has attributed some of her success to lessons learned in Jack Nockel's English classes!  "She truly believes in the missions of Aquinas Catholic Schools and supports many of their fundraising events."

Read just about Tom and Kathy

Click for entire Summer 2017 Aquinas Report



Margie Mason Receives Paula J. Tower Memorial Award

Our classmate Margie Mason is the 2018 recipient of the Paula J. Tower Memorial Award from Gundersen Health System for her work in raising awareness of breast cancer. Margie is truly humbled by this award but has agreed to share this recognition on social media as part of her mission is to use her voice and experience as a Stage IV breast cancer survivor to raise awareness and funds to support other women and men battling this disease.

Read more



Monday profile: Anne Hlavacka is a partner for small business

The 7 Rivers Region is resilient, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, says the new director of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Small Business Development Center. Anne Morgan Hlavacka, a La Crosse native and 1984 UW-L graduate, became the center's director in June. She succeeded Jan Gallagher, who retired as director in March.

The center partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration and UW-Extension to provide business counseling services, business education programs and information resources for entrepreneurs and small-business owners throughout the region.

Read Fully Story . . .


Sue Hanifl named 2010 Teacher of the Year for Shasta County California
Sue Hanifl “While attending a professional development activity, it was brought to my attention that frequently the first thing that happens to a student upon entering the classroom determines their entire mind set for the class that day. As students enter my classroom each day, I make every opportunity speak with each one individually. I want each student to know that I am really sincere and I really do care about their response. I strive to create a classroom where students are safe, comfortable, and conducive to learning. I work hard to be prepared and expect the same of my students. I hope my students will look back at their time in my class remembering the lessons they learned and knowing they had a teacher who loves teaching and learning and truly cares about her students.”
Ms. Hanifl is an outstanding teacher who has a caring attitude and a strong academic background. During her three years at Enterprise High School, she has demonstrated excellent teaching skills and her contributions have made Enterprise High School a better academic institution.   Read Full Story . . .


We're all in the news this time.--sort of.    Make sure to add this to your resume.  You graduated from a BLUE RIBBON school!

Sep 2008:  Aquinas named National Blue Ribbon School by Education Dept.

Aquinas High School was named a 2008 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Aquinas was honored for its academic excellence and ACT scores in the top 10 percent of the nation, in an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings Tuesday afternoon.

Read full story  La Crosse Tribune story




Click to enlarge

Pension investigation earns reporter Pulitzer


Posted: April 7, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dave Umhoefer's six-month investigation into the Milwaukee County pension system won journalism's top award Monday - a Pulitzer Prize.

Umhoefer received the award for local reporting, marking the first time a Pulitzer was won by a staff member of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and sixth Pulitzer Prize overall in the newspaper company's long history. The Milwaukee Journal was awarded five Pulitzers.

Umhoefer's story detailed pension deals for Milwaukee County workers. During his investigation, he created a database to show how hundreds of county workers boosted their pensions - violating county ordinances and IRS rules in the process.

The lucrative county pension deal allowed select workers to "buy back" service time for seasonal and part-time jobs held decades ago. The program was marked by cronyism, conflicts of interest and backroom deals.

Read more