On the Saturday before Christmas break, the 350-seat auditorium at this west suburban Catholic school was packed—not for a talent show or a gift exchange, but to kick off the annual Christmas drive shopping day for families in need. Then there are the relief trips to Appalachia, Tijuana, and Guatemala. “We don’t have a service requirement because we don’t really need one,” says Benet’s principal, Stephen Marth.
While community service may be what the school is most proud of, it’s most known for its athletics. Benet’s sports teams have won 14 state trophies in the past 12 years, including a 2017 championship for girls’ tennis and a third-place finish for boys’ soccer. It’s impressive to find a school that can offer stellar service initiatives and top-ranked athletics with an excellent academic program, but it’s downright rare to find one that does it for $11,700 a year—by far the least expensive on Chicago’s list. “What I’m really proud of is that we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Marth says. “We’re focused on the holistic development of our students.”