Spotlight ArchivePatrick Bonnot
Anthony "Tony" Brenneke
The Foundation for the Benefit of Helias Catholic High School is proud to recognize Helias Catholic's own Communications and Admissions director Rebecca Martin as our first alumni spotlight of 2022.
Rebecca Martin (nee Maples) graduated from Helias in 2009, and then went on to attend Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. After earning Bachelor's degrees in journalism and theology, she returned to the capital city and began her journalism career working for the Jefferson City News Tribune. After several years with the newspaper – a stint that included serving as the City Editor as well as being named the 2018 Outstanding Young Journalist by the Missouri Press Association, an opportunity presented itself to Mrs. Martin, allowing her to transition out of the unknowns of a promising journalism career and into another very important role in her hometown. Despite her passion for serving her community as a journalist, this new opportunity was one Martin couldn't pass up.
In 2021, Martin was named the new Communications & Admissions Director at Helias, a position held by Sandy Hentges for the previous five years before her departure at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Among her responsibilities, Martin oversees Helias Catholic's communication with stakeholders including families, staff and community, she manages the school's marketing and branding efforts, and she coordinates admissions and outreach efforts.
Rebecca and her husband Eric Martin are the proud parents of two children – Emmett (3), and Holly (9 mos.). They are members of Immaculate Conception parish. She was a member of the Leadership Jefferson City Class of 2020-21. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, music, spending time outdoors, and cheering for her beloved St. Louis Cardinals.
Q & A
HF: What are some of your fondest memories of your time as a student at Helias?
RM: People. I met some of my dearest friends during my time at Helias, and we're still close today even living across the country from each other. I have as many memories of study sessions spent obsessing over impossible precalculus problems and filming Spanish conversation videos as I do of the "highlights" like Homecoming and spirit weeks. The environment Helias fosters — with focuses on growing in faith and developing academically together — is a perfect backdrop for forming lifelong friendships.
HF: What impact did Helias and/or your teachers/coaches/etc. make on you? Any specific examples?
RM: I was a pretty academic, quiet student. Like most teenagers, I was still learning who I was. I didn't start high school knowing all the classes I wanted to take or all the activities I wanted to participate in. But Helias has a way of presenting opportunities and gently inviting you to get involved where you feel comfortable. One of many examples for me was being asked by the music director after my freshman year to play the piano for the choir. I probably wouldn't have sought out the opportunity if a teacher hadn't believed in me and personally invited me, but that invite helped set the tone for the rest of my high school years in working hard at something I enjoyed and creating new friendships. Overall, I think Helias' sense of community and high academic and moral standards helped me along the right path for college and life.
HF: Favorite Helias class or teacher? Any particular reason?
RM: Mrs. Nancy West, my freshman English teacher, was extremely passionate about literature and language, which helped me dive into my own love of those subjects. She taught by example that we should be bold and confident about our knowledge.
HF: Were you involved with any extracurriculars while at Helias? If so, what?
RM: My experience in the school's music program, primarily as a piano accompanist for the choirs, opened doors for me and taught me a lot about working hard at something so others could excel: no one (except, perhaps, my parents) attended those performances to watch me play the piano; they were there to hear the choir sing – but my role helped the singers shine. I'd like to think I still bring that mindset to the work I do now. It also allowed me to try new things, like my very brief (as in, a few days') stand-in stint behind the drum set in the Jazz Band.
I was also involved in the Journalism Club when the school newspaper was revived for a time at Helias. Helping build that program gave me a great understanding of applying skills from the classroom to real-life work.
HF: How does the Helias of today compare to the Helias of your high school years?
RM: It's a lot bigger! I work in a part of the building that didn't exist when I was a student here. What was considered the "new hallway" then is now just a hallway, and the office where you'd go for a pink slip when you were late for school is now on the other side of the building (although Mrs. Peggy Rogers is still behind the desk giving out the pink slips). I've had to remind myself once or twice that football games are on Friday nights now, not Saturday nights as they were when we shared Jefferson City High School's stadium. (Did I mention the landscape has changed quite a bit, too, now that we have the Crusader Athletic Complex?) In short, Helias has grown significantly since I was in high school, but somehow it still feels like the same place with the same Crusader spirit.
HF: What does "Helias Community" mean to you?
RM: I'd be missing an opportunity if my answer didn't include Helias Catholic's vision statement: building a community of saints and scholars for Christ. Helias community is about supporting each other to grow as whole people – academically, spiritually and otherwise – for the greater glory of God.
HF: What brought you back to Helias?
RM: I wasn't necessarily looking for a career change when the opportunity at Helias Catholic came about last summer. I cared deeply about the work I was doing at the newspaper; Jefferson City is my home, and working as a local journalist is as much an act of community service as it is a job. I wouldn't have moved on if Helias Catholic hadn't been such a great fit. Not having worked in education, I had never really considered that I might end up working at my alma mater, but I'm so happy I was able to "come home" to Helias just like I came home to Jefferson City early in my career as a journalist.
HF: What makes you proud to say you're a Crusader?
RM: Crusaders take care of each other and those around them. Service is a way of life at Helias Catholic, and that foundation has shaped my understanding of faith, family, work and my approach to all areas of life.
HF: What do you think is the most important part of your job?
RM: Sharing the Helias Catholic story and inviting more people to be a part of it.
HF: How is your current job different than your previous position(s) in journalism?
RM: It's more strategic in some ways and requires a different kind of long-term vision. As a reporter and editor, much of my routine centered around a daily or weekly news cycle. My current role at Helias Catholic involves more long-range planning and communicating with stakeholders in different ways. There are plenty of similarities, though. Ultimately, I'm still responsible for sharing the stories and information that are important to the people my organization serves and working to be as inclusive of as many members of our community as possible.
Do you know a graduate of Helias who deserves to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight? It doesn't matter whether they still live here in this community, or if they're doing big things somewhere far away. If we can reach them, we'd love to feature them. Please feel free to send us a name, contact information, and a brief description of why you feel they deserve to be recognized to email@example.com or call us at (573) 635-3808. We want everyone to know what our Crusaders are doing, regardless of when they graduated or where they live. If they're an example to you, they can be an example to many, and we'd love to tell their story!
To nominate someone for the Alumni Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.