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Congratulations Mrs. Julie Horne, 2022 Ryken Award Recipient


Mrs. Julie Horne has been named the 2022 Ryken Award recipient, the highest honor bestowed each year to one faculty or staff member at Xaverian Brothers High School.

The Ryken Award is bestowed annually as part of Xaverian Brothers High School’s Founder’s Week, which celebrates Theodore James Ryken, founder of the Congregation of St. Francis Xavier (more commonly known as the Xaverian Brothers). It signifies an exceptional commitment to Ryken’s vision and dedication to the core values of a Xaverian Brothers education. Each year, Xaverian faculty and staff nominate colleagues to win the prestigious award, and the winner is kept secret until the big announcement at the Founder’s Day liturgy. 

Essential to this plan is Mrs. Julie Horne, P ’12, ’14, ’14, Administrative Assistant to the Administration. It’s her responsibility to buy flowers for the presentation and set up a light breakfast reception for the award winner’s family who are invited to the liturgy but kept hidden until the award winner is announced. This year, Mrs. Horne had no idea it was her own flowers she was buying, and her own reception she was planning. 

“I knew if we told Julie she didn’t need to do the usual tasks necessary for this liturgy and award presentation, it would ruin the surprise. She would figure out it had something to do with her,” says Dr. Michael Nicholson, Principal. “So instead, we let her plan her own party. It worked. She was thoroughly shocked when her name was called, and she deserved to enjoy the experience the same as all previous Ryken Award winners. Julie is the best, hands down.”

The only hiccup was when Mrs. Horne said she’d stay in the main office to handle the phones and front door during the liturgy. Dr. Jake Conca ’94, Head of School, intervened. She says he told her absolutely not, she would attend the liturgy - “end of discussion.”

“I couldn’t figure out why he was so snarky about it,” she says with a laugh. “I was completely overwhelmed. I did not have an inkling. They really got me good!”

As is customary, Dr. Conca made the Ryken Award announcement, sharing first excerpts of the submissions on the winner’s behalf before he revealed the name of the recipient. He shared that colleagues described this year’s winner as “possessing a loving, joyful, helping heart, and an unwavering commitment to Xaverian’s students, faculty, staff, and administrators.” They said that she continually “lets the light of Christ shine to everyone,” “treats everyone with respect,” and, “puts people at ease.” He further shared that, “Her faith, while kept close to her, is felt by her patient and soothing manner. Our students appreciate her grace and caring, and our staff admire her support and kindness, as well as her daily smile.” But it was when he said that the nominee reads to a blind man in her free time that Mrs. Horne realized he was talking about her. It seemed all other faculty and staff had realized by then who it was, too, and all eyes turned to her as her name was called: “At this time, Dr. Nicholson and I are most pleased to present the 2022 Theodore James Ryken Award to Mrs. Julie Horne.” 

The applause was thunderous and the standing ovation continued long after Mrs. Horne made the walk from the back of the gym to the stage and was presented with the award by Dr. Conca and Dr. Nicholson. Her parents, Tom and Nancy Foley, as well as her sons Brian ’12, Kevin ’14, and Patrick ’14 (all Xaverian graduates), were there to congratulate her. 

“I am the proud mother of three grads,” says Mrs. Horne with a huge smile, “and I was so grateful that they could be there along with my parents. I was overwhelmed.”

Mrs. Horne started work at Xaverian in 2007. She had previously worked in admissions at St. Catherine’s School, and she came to Xaverian to serve as an assistant to then Director of Admissions, Tim McDonough. It was a part-time position, but within a year the Dean of Students, Jim Spillman, asked her to move to his office as the assistant. She spent 13 years in the dean’s office (later changed to the Office of Student Life), serving five different assistant principals in that time; the last was Dr. Nicholson who went on to become the Principal. When he did, he took Mrs. Horne with him to the main office where she now serves with Dr. Conca and Dr. Nicholson.

“Winning the Ryken Award,” Mrs. Horne says, “is such a great feeling. There are a lot of other people before me who have received this award who I consider to be really fantastic, talented, smart, giving people who are living the mission of the school. To be considered with those individuals and to be nominated by my colleagues, I am so humbled by that and grateful to be recognized.”

Gratitude for Xaverian is something Mrs. Horne feels every day. “I’ve always loved coming to work here. And at this point in my life, that’s important; I really want to enjoy what I’m doing. I’ve got two awesome bosses, and I feel really lucky that they kept me. I love the fact that we work somewhere that we have a mission, we have a purpose, and it serves as a compass for all of us. There’s just something exceptional here at Xaverian.”

“Like the Ryken Award winners before her, Mrs. Horne’s character is the embodiment of our Xaverian mission and the personification of Gospel values,” says Dr. Conca. “The way in which she supports and interacts with our students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators is truly the definition of what it means to be a servant leader. Xaverian is a better place because she is in our community.”
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Xaverian is a Catholic, college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7-12. As an inclusive community, we embrace diverse experiences and perspectives, welcoming students and families from all faiths and backgrounds. Through exceptional academics, athletics, the arts, faith formation, and service opportunities, we help young men discover their unique gifts and talents so they can share them with a world in need.