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Mike Biondini is recipient of 2017 Marian Award

11/03/2017 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. When Mike Biondini retired from the Widefield School District after 31 years, he wasn’t sure what interests he would pursue. He was working toward joining an investment group when he heard that St. Mary’s High School had a counselor position open. Interested in the possibility of returning to his alma mater, Biondini applied for the position and began working at St. Mary’s.

 Fifteen years later, Biondini continues to serve the families of St. Mary’s High School, and this year that service was honored when Biondini was presented the school’s Marian Award.

Each year, members of the St. Mary’s family nominate individuals deserving of the Marian Award. The award, which has been given annually since 2001, is presented by the St. Mary’s High School Board of Directors in recognition of unselfish service to others and outstanding contributions to the community.

Biondini was presented with the 2017 Marian Award on Nov. 1. He said he is humbled by the recognition. “I’m in awe of this really,” he said. “It’s very special to get recognition for doing something that you really love. St. Mary’s is a special place and the reason we’re here is never lost on me for an instant.”

Admittedly, when Biondini returned St. Mary’s in June 2002, he never dreamed that a decade and a half later he would still be at the school. His original thought was that he would be a counselor at St. Mary’s for a year or two and then move on to something else. But as the years passed, the new opportunities that arose came from within. In the fall of 2017, Biondini began his 47th year in secondary education. During his time at St. Mary’s, he has been as a counselor, assistant principal, golf coach for both the boys’ and girls’ teams, principal, and director of Counseling Services.

“For me it’s always been about the kids,” Biondini said. “As a student at St. Mary’s, I had a great experience that prepared me well for the future. Now I’ve worn a lot of different hats for St. Mary’s and seen the school’s operations from a lot of different perspectives that most people aren’t privy too. St. Mary’s is providing a needed service to the community and filling a necessary niche.”

While his time at St. Mary’s has lasted longer than he originally planned, Biondini said he has never had a morning that he dreaded having to go to the St. Mary’s campus. His service to the school has always been a labor of love.

The counseling office serves different students in different ways, he said, from exploring options for the future to being a sanctuary in times of need. It is a privilege to be part of the process.

“I dearly love doing what I do,” Biondini said. “I have been fortunate to be able step in and do what needs to be done. Things grow and prosper when people do what needs to be done and do it with a positive attitude. For me, serving St. Mary’s has never been a job; it’s been a blessing.”

Part of that blessing for Biondini has been seeing his own faith grow during the last 15 years. It is also a privilege to watch the students at St. Mary’s grow in their Catholic faith, he said. Biondini said it is wonderful that St. Mary’s allows, and even encourages, students to question their faith and that they have a safe environment in which do that.

“We grow by questioning things,” he said. “That’s one of the precepts of education — that we look at the what, why and how. For St. Mary’s students that’s not just an academic process but a faith process. They are able to investigate and question what they believe.”

Biondini said working in education has taught him that students pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Students are always watching, he said, even when adults might not be expecting them to. That realization has led him to live out his faith in deliberate ways.

“For me faith is the way you treat people, how you interact with others and how you give,” he said. “My faith is how is I conduct my life on a daily basis. Teaching by example is important. I try in every way to live my faith and let the kids watch.”

That is a trait that is reflected in the list of past Marian Award recipients. When he looks over the list, Biondini said he feels honored to be included, especially among so many people whom he has known and admired for so many years. Past recipients include: Leo Smentowski, class of 1954; Bambi Venetucci; Betty Faricy, class of 1970; and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, also class of 1970.

“It is quite a distinguished group of people,” Biondini said. “I’m in awe of the people who continue to come forward to support St. Mary’s.”

(Amy G. Partain is Director of Communications for St. Mary’s High School.)

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