Holy Name High School gave them a sense of family and camaraderie
The Wave, Winter 2013 | Story By Danielle Toth | Photos by Dave Fisher ‘04, Fisher Photography
What William and Christine Mahnic, both ’75, remember most about their time at Holy Name High School is the sense of family and camaraderie.
“The thing you don’t realize is just how many people you know when you go to Holy Name,” says Bill, who grew up across the street from former Holy Name High School principal Eugene Krakowiak and says he considers Krakowiak’s children Andrew, Mark and Mary Beth to be cousins. “With the alumni connection, there are generations upon generations —once you meet one person from a family, you know all of them.”
Recently, the Mahnics witnessed a testament to that warm fellowship with the welcoming treatment of their great-niece, a sixth-grader who has attended the high school’s cheerleading and volleyball camps.
“We brought her with us to a football game and a dress rehearsal for Legally Blonde, and the older girls remembered her and greeted her,” Christine recalls. “They asked her about her plans for high school and if she would like to shadow at Holy Name. It really meant a lot to me to see a senior doing that for a sixth-grader. It brought tears to my eyes because it was genuine. That’s what Bill and I have always loved about the school and what keeps bringing us back. By the way she now tells everyone that she bleeds green!”
PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
Christine’s father, Clarence Cieplowski ’53, graduated from Holy Name, as well as his aunt, her great aunt Irene ’31, his sister, her aunt Joanne ’51, and her brother, Christopher ’77. Her youngest brother Casey attended until the move from Broadway to Parma. A cousin Anissa Smolen ’86 is also a fellow Namer. “I grew up in Garfield Heights, and upon graduating from Sts. Peter & Paul there was no doubt I was going to a Catholic High School.” Christine says. “My choices were Marymount, Central Catholic or Holy Name. I made the decision to attend Holy Name, mainly because of my family history.”
Bill had a similar experience, although he says because of his family tradition, he had little choice of where he would attend high school. Bill’s brother Frank attended the school, as well as his sister, Honey and his younger brother Jim graduated in 1976. His cousin, MaryAnn Kuznik ’70 Adamczak,whose husband is Jim Adamczak ’73, and cousins Bob Kuznik ’72 and Nancy Kuznik ’75 Novak are also HN grads. His great-nephew, Darryl Smigelski is a 2002 graduate as well (with a 1 ½ year old future Namer daughter). Bill attended Holy Name Elementary School beginning in kindergarten.
“When you walk through the doors, you know you’re a part of something,” the Doc Scullen Award winner for outstanding male alumnus says. “It’s both tradition and spirituality; you are a part of something much bigger than you are, and I like that.”
While the Mahnics graduated from the old school at Harvard and Broadway Avenues, their experience at the new school has been the same.
“When I walked through the halls of the new school, I felt the same old feelings come back,” Christine says. “The students are fabulous, and as you walk through, you have this warm, fuzzy feeling, a real sense of belonging.”
The Mahnics met in their junior year of high school when Christine, then Cieplowski, tutored Bill in algebra (“I must have done an excellent job,” Christine jokes, “because he went on to become an investment banker with National City Bank.”). The intramural basketball and volleyball team member and clarinet player in marching and concert band was one of the first members of the school’s drill team. When she needed a date for the homecoming dance, she prompted Bill, a cross-country runner, to ask her.
“We had a natural chemistry,” Bill recalls. “We spent a lot of time together, and she became my best friend.”
The two dated throughout college — Bill attended John Carroll University and Christine headed to Notre Dame College for one year. They married the day before Bill graduated from the university with a bachelor’s of science in business administration in 1980. He then went on to graduate with a master’s degree in business administration from Case Western Reserve University in 1990 as a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a business student can receive in a program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
A LITTLE BIT OF HOLY NAME
Following graduation from John Carroll, Bill worked in Republic Steel’s treasury department for four years before beginning a 22-year career with National City Bank. He started in the management training program and was hand-picked to start the investment banking program. He spent more than eight years in mergers and acquisitions working with businesses that wanted to sell their companies and investors looking to buy them. He also helped value companies. In his last 10 years with National City, he worked in the interest rate derivative products group helping large companies manage their interest rate risk.
Bill was then approached to teach a class at Case Western Reserve for the MBA program. He taught one class every semester and found he enjoyed it.
“As I got older, I planned to retire early from the bank and have a second career as a college professor,” Bill says. “The stars aligned, and I moved to Case as a full-time professor in 2007.”
Bill was named Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management Teacher of the Year earlier this year. He also helped establish a stock investment club and undergraduate major and minor in finance at Case and a master’s of finance degree program in Shanghai, China.
After her year at Notre Dame College, Christine entered the workforce, working in medical billing and coding at physician’s offices. Her last position was at the Cleveland Clinic as a reimbursement specialist, although she retired about 15 years ago to spend more time with her family and become more involved in her community and church.
Chris has served on the Board of Brecksville Center for the Arts and chaired several committees including one for its biggest event, Heartfelt Holidays, and has served on the Brecksville Historical Association Board. She also became involved in many activities at the Mahnics’ parish, St. Basil the Great in Brecksville. Both Mahnics have assisted with Pre-Cana classes there and at St. Martin of Tours parish in Maple Heights. They also hosted a parish school of religion program for high school students in their home.
The Mahnics also enjoy golf. Bill has been part of one of the area’s oldest traveling leagues for over 30 years and Chris was vice president of her league for several years. They spend about two months in Arizona each year chasing little white balls.
Although he grew up on the southeast side of Cleveland, Bill says Holy Name exposed him to a wide variety of people as he went to school with students from the east side, west side, suburbs, etc.
“As we become a more global society, Holy Name helped prepare me to meet different people and be open to different personalities and beliefs,” he says. “Every day in my life, when I achieve a success, have a pleasant moment, learn something or see something I never saw before, there is a little bit of Holy Name in it. I’m a big believer that I would have been a different person without Holy Name. It’s helped me enjoy life a bit more and made it more pleasurable.”
SUPPORT YOUR PAST IF YOU WANT IT TO BE THERE IN THE FUTURE
The Mahnics have remained involved in their alma mater — Bill has been on the board of advisors for about 12 years, while Christine has served on the auction committee and co-chaired one of the galas. She currently serves on the institutional advancement committee. The couple also attends the annual Eugene T. Krakowiak Golf Outing.
“As we became more involved at Holy Name, it was great to see that many of the teachers we had were still there, like Mr. Gale, Mr. Moderick, Ms. Sorace-Thomas, Mr. Ream, Mr. Gizzi, Mr. Ramicone, Mr. Donovan, Mr. Wilks and of course Mr. K.,” Christine says. “And Joe Langa, who graduated with us, just recently retired as a teacher at HN and has returned as an aide to a visually impaired student. The teachers stay with the school, and that, in and of itself, says something.”
In terms of philanthropy, the Mahnics were lead donors for the New Gymnasium, sponsored a math classroom with a Smart Board and most recently supported the new Ferrante Library & Media Center on the Holy Name High School campus, which includes not only a library and technology center but also a television production studio and control room, instructional classroom with Smart Board and wireless Internet.
The Mahnics also started the Mahnic Family Music Fund to honor Christine’s time in band and Bill’s father’s career as a professional polka musician. The fund is for students with financial needs and/or a passion for music.
“When I left Holy Name, I thought I was done with it and moved on,” Christine says. “But years later, we went back and walked the halls and people like Colleen Corrigan-Day ’88 and Bill Hartman ’67 really took us under their wing and made us feel a part of the school. It felt good to be involved again — you’ve got to support your past if you want it to be there in the future.
“You hear people say, ‘let someone else do it’, I’ve said it myself. But as you grow older you come to realize that YOU are now that ‘someone else’. If we (Bill, I & fellow Namers) don’t step up and be that ‘someone else’, where will Holy Name be 50 years from now? We will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2014 and the reason is because those ‘someone elses’ before us gave and supported the school in any way they could. It’s our obligation to do that for the future and support the generations that follow us.”
This article was published in HN’s – The Wave Winter 2013 Alumni Magazine.
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