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Image of John Berdusco '23 playing the piano in Russia

Thousands of miles away from home in the grand setting of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, a pianist sits at the keys giving a performance to an international audience filled with musicians, teachers and family.

The set up would be enough to make many nervous, but 14-year old John Michael Berdusco said he doesn’t really feel any pressure when he prepares to compete.

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Thousands of miles away from home in the grand setting of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, a pianist sits at the keys giving a performance to an international audience filled with musicians, teachers and family.

The set up would be enough to make many nervous, but 14-year old John Michael Berdusco said he doesn’t really feel any pressure when he prepares to compete.

“It’s just do it so you don’t have to do it later,” he said.

“Guess who’s nervous?” said his father. John Berdusco.

Berdusco and his father traveled to Russia this summer for an international competition, where Berdusco took third place in piano with orchestra in a field with competitors from all over the world.

A total of 72 contestants competed in different instrument categories. They ranged in age from 11 to 29 and came from several countries including Brazil, Honduras, Japan, China, Germany, Spain and Russia. About 10 competitors including Berdusco came from the United States.

“They all got along great and supported one another,” John Berdusco said.

The piano category had two competitions, piano solo and solo with orchestra. Berdusco competed in both.

All of the prepared pieces must be played from memory.

The seven-day festival included time to sit with four teachers from different countries, including Russia and Japan. Their competitions took place in the St. Petersburg House of Composers as well as the Marble palace.

While in St. Petersburg, Berdusco did have some time to see the sights, including the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and Hermitage Museum.

“The city was really nice,” he said.

This is the third time Berdusco has competed in such company. He previously went to Italy and Spain, where he won second place at the age of 11. International competitions like this are held every one or two years.

The preparation for the competition was surprisingly less than one might think, Berudsco said.

“Just practice your songs and pack your bags,” he said.

He started practicing three or four months before the trip, every day.

The opportunity for Berdusco to compete in these international competitions comes from his teacher, Reid Smith. He is friends with the organizers of the competitions, and he invites some of the students who play with him to the events. It is a great opportunity, Berdusco said.

“Not a lot of people get this, so it’s nice to have taken advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

John Berdusco hopes the experience will help his son as he builds a resume. Berdusco is interested in the medical field, potentially invasive cardiology, and would like to attend Brown University or John Hopkins University.

Berdusco enjoys piano because it’s a form of expression

“It’s just enjoyable hearing the songs you play,” he said.

Beyond his competitions and performances, he plays music that he wants to play. His favorite piece is Marcus Veltri’s "Sorrow."

Berdusco practices each night after dinner. His father said he needs no prompting now to do so.

“Now I’m cleaning up and I hear the piano,” John Berudsco said. He’s proud of his son. He gives up much of his summer for opportunities like this, he said. “So I give him a lot of credit."

Berdusco still has other time for other interests including playing violin in the St. Thomas Academy orchestra and participating in trap shooting and soccer.

His next international performance will be in Italy, where his grandparents are from. He visited their hometown during his trip to Italy, and was invited to do a tribute to his grandfather next summer.

Saint Thomas Academy Names Retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral Interim Headmaster

Saint Thomas Academy has named Rear Adm. John E. Crowley, Jr., ’71, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.), as interim headmaster, effective August 1, 2019. Crowley brings extensive leadership, communication, problem-solving and diplomacy experience to the college-preparatory, Catholic, military leadership academy serving boys in grades 6-12.

Saint Thomas Academy has named Rear Adm. John E. Crowley, Jr., ’71, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.), as interim headmaster, effective August 1, 2019. Crowley brings extensive leadership, communication, problem-solving and diplomacy experience to the college-preparatory, Catholic, military leadership academy serving boys in grades 6-12.

“Admiral Crowley’s leadership credentials, academic and human resources experience, collaboration skills and independence make him exceptionally qualified to lead Saint Thomas Academy in an interim capacity,” said Daniel E. Kubes ’87, chairman, Saint Thomas Academy Board of Trustees. “Throughout his military career, Admiral Crowley was guided by the Coast Guard’s values of honor, respect and devotion to duty, and led his assignments and personnel with the utmost respect. In doing so, he earned the trust of the highest-ranking military officers, policymakers and elected officials, resulting in many special appointments to lead difficult assignments.” These assignments included helping establish the Department of Homeland Security following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and serving as academic director of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard legal training schoolhouse, where he led the overhaul of the training methodology.

Crowley served three years as the Coast Guard’s judge advocate general. In this role, he was the chief legal adviser to the commandant, head of the military justice system and leader of interdisciplinary teams worldwide. He personally conducted military trials and supported Department of Justice admiralty trials. Crowley served two years as the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Great Lakes region. Collaborating with federal, state and Canadian officials, he led 6,900 personnel to protect U.S. borders and coastal territories. Previously, he served on five cutters, two of which he was in command, conducting multinational operations from the Great Lakes, to the Caribbean, to the European theater.

After retiring from the Coast Guard in 2008, Crowley served as senior vice president and general counsel of APM Terminals, NA, Inc., and executive director of two national maritime trade associations.

Crowley graduated from Saint Thomas Academy in 1971 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a J.D. from American University. Crowley previously served one term on the Saint Thomas Academy Board of Trustees.

Photo of Dan O'Brien

Saint Thomas Academy has named Dan O’Brien to the position of interim athletics and activities director, and Brian Kallman as head of the soccer program and head varsity soccer coach. O’Brien, currently head of Cadets football, previously served in athletics administration for the University of Minnesota, Hamline University and Concordia University-St. Paul. Kallman brings 14 years as a youth soccer coach and 9 years of professional playing experience, most recently as a defender for the Minnesota United FC, to his new position.

Saint Thomas Academy has named Dan O’Brien to the position of interim athletics and activities director, and Brian Kallman as head of the soccer program and head varsity soccer coach. O’Brien, currently head of Cadets football, previously served in athletics administration for the University of Minnesota, Hamline University and Concordia University-St. Paul. Kallman brings 14 years as a youth soccer coach and 9 years of professional playing experience, most recently as a defender for the Minnesota United FC, to his new position.

“Since being hired as head of the football program, head football coach and director of community partnerships and outreach in April 2018, Dan has had an immeasurably positive impact on both Cadet athletics and the broader Saint Thomas Academy community,” said Daniel E. Kubes ’87, chairman, Saint Thomas Academy Board of Trustees. “Dan brings to his increased role an exceptional depth in athletics administration, which the Board is confident will lead our co-curricular programs to even greater levels of excellence for many years to come.”

In his first year with Saint Thomas Academy, O’Brien led the Cadet Football team to the state championship title game, forged relationships with business and community partners on behalf of the Academy and established several successful and profitable community-building events.

O’Brien previously served as athletic director for both Concordia University-St. Paul and Hamline University, before working for the University of Minnesota as assistant athletic director for football operations and later senior associate athletic director, overseeing football, wrestling, and men’s and women’s golf.

While at the University of Minnesota, O’Brien served on the TCF Bank design team, several hiring committees, the athletic director’s planning committee and executive council, and multiple Bowl planning teams. He was the primary individual responsible for many improvements and renovations to athletic facilities at both Hamline and Concordia, including securing gifts to fund these improvements. Under O’Brien’s leadership, both universities experienced increased participation in athletics.

O’Brien will remain head of the football program and head varsity football coach.

KALLMAN NAMED HEAD OF SOCCER PROGRAM/HEAD COACH

Kallman is currently the high-performance girls’ director for Salvo Soccer Club Woodbury. In this position, he manages individual soccer plans, provides player feedback, manages team competitiveness, prepares for training and games, and makes player selections based on current and potential ability. He also founded and runs Fútebol Form and Fitness, which provides players of all ages with individualized training and coaching.

“With his experience playing at the professional and collegiate levels, and coaching and training through youth sports programs and Fútebol Form and Fitness, I’m confident Brian will continue the success of our soccer program,” said Dan O’Brien, interim athletics and activities director for Saint Thomas Academy. “In addition to his great coaching and playing skills, Brian has tremendous passion for the game, which inspires teams and players to peak performance.”

As a professional player, Kallman played in 153 games, including league games and the U.S. Open Cup. He first signed with the Minnesota Thunder in 2006 and went on to play over 50 games during four years with the Thunder. In 2010, he signed with the Minnesota Stars, where he played for three years, making 74 appearances. In 2011, Kallman earned the starting defender role and helped the team make the playoffs and win the club's first North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl Championship. In 2012, Kallman was a key part of the Minnesota defense during its second straight trip to the NASL Soccer Bowl. He played nearly 2,600 minutes for Minnesota in 32 starts. In 2013, the Thunder became the Minnesota United FC. Kallman played for Minnesota United in 2013, 2014, and 2015, appearing in 29 games.

A Woodbury native, Brian played three years of college soccer at Jacksonville University, serving as team captain in his third year. He transferred to Creighton University for his senior season, where he helped anchor the Bluejay defense and contribute to the team’s 0.80 goals-against average, 10 shutouts and 15-5-3 record. The team placed 23rd in the NCAA and advanced to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals that year. While at Creighton, Brian was named to the Diadora Challenge All-Tournament Team and Portland Invitational All-Tournament Team.

Brian's brother Brent is currently a defender for the Minnesota United FC. His sister, Kassey, plays professionally as well, and represented the U.S. national team at the youth level.

Three Saint Thomas Academy students working on the NASA Wear Project design

A team from Saint Thomas Academy has been invited to NASA Langley Research Center in August to share student-designed, wearable, radiation countermeasures with NASA engineers and scientists. The team was one of just five high school teams in the country invited to NASA Langley, where they will share their designs, learn about the engineering process, participate in STEM engagement activities, and tour NASA Langley Research Center. NASA is funding all the teams' travel (housing, transportation, and food) costs.

A team from Saint Thomas Academy has been invited to NASA Langley Research Center in August to share student-designed, wearable, radiation countermeasures with NASA engineers and scientists. The team was one of just five high school teams in the country invited to NASA Langley, where they will share their designs, learn about the engineering process, participate in STEM engagement activities, and tour NASA Langley Research Center. NASA is funding all the teams' travel (housing, transportation, and food) costs.

Through a competitive process, teams of students and educators submitted design proposals for wearable anti-radiation garments via video for evaluation by NASA scientists and engineers who design these technologies in their work. Developing radiation countermeasures are an important step as the United States returns astronauts to the moon by 2024 and continue onto Mars.

This engineering challenge has taught the team about deep space exploration while designing wearable gear to help astronauts their decrease radiation exposure and increase flight time. The students also received direct insight from NASA through webinars and online information sessions with NASA subject matter experts on deep space travel, radiation and the design process.

The team includes:

  • Wil Applebaum ’21 of Mendota Heights
  • Will Hoppe ’21 of Saint Paul (Mac-Groveland)
  • Daniel Staelgraeve ’21 of Saint Paul (Merriam Park East)
  • Jenna Westlake ’20 of Lakeville

Faculty advisers:

  • Mark Westlake, director of the Saint Thomas Academy Innovation Center
  • Caroline Little, science teacher at Visitation School

Follow the Saint Thomas Academy NASA WEAR team at https://www.facebook.com/STA.NASA.WEAR/ or #NASA_WEAR.

Get more information about WEAR at http://go.nasa.gov/nasa_wear and NASA’s STEM engagement opportunities at: http://www.nasa.gov/stem.