It is the oldest and most prestigious award announced every year at the Saint Viator High School
graduation ceremony, that bridges current students with a bygone era of the school’s early years and one of its former students.
The Christopher Erdmann Award reached 50 years this year. It was created in memory of Christopher Erdmann ‘68, who passed away from leukemia during the fall of his senior year. According to a story in the Daily Herald at the time, Erdmann’s parents created the award, “to show our appreciation to the school, faculty and students in the hopes that a perpetual trophy would be a reminder and inspiration.”
Ever since that first year, the name of each recipient has been etched on the “Christopher Cup” and displayed on a pedestal in the President’s office. More recently, the cup has moved to the main hallway, where students and visitors alike can read about its history and see a portrait of the latest recipient.
Erdmann’s parents turned to a local jeweler to design the cup and trimmed it with enough plaques for the next 50 years. This year’s recipient, Jeremy Yoder, is the 50th. However, school officials confirmed that the award will continue and they will find a way to etch more names.
“In my mind, it is the oldest and most prestigious award the school gives. I can’t imagine that it won’t continue,” says Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, former school president and current chairman of its board of governors. He also was a member of the class of 1969, was one year younger than Erdmann, and remembers the emotion that surrounded his passing.
The first recipient of the Erdmann Award was Gary Rogowski, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. He designed custom furniture for 25 years and now teaches the art medium at The Northwest Woodworking Studio, which he founded 20 years ago.
“It was a big deal and I’m quite proud of it,” he says of being the first Erdmann Award winner. “Of course, I didn’t know the history of it or what it would become.”
Ironically, he and the 50th recipient, share more in common than their stellar academic records and numerous extracurricular activities. They both worked with Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, on the math team.
“I use math a lot with my students now and I often think of Fr. Perham,” Rogowski adds. “He was a huge influence on me.”
Jeremy also worked with Fr. Perham, who continues to tutor math team members and create projects for Querbes Scholars, of which Jeremy was one.
Remarkably, the selection process has not changed over 50 years. Seniors still vote during the first round to narrow it down to the top five, before faculty members determine the winner. At its inception, Erdmann’s parents hoped that they would vote for the senior who “best exemplified the ancient legend of St. Christopher and the living tradition of St. Viator.”