BK News

Boys' Swim Team Wins Back-to-Back FHSAA Class 2A State Title

The Bishop Kenny Boys’ Swim team won the FHSAA Class 2A state title at the 2022 Swimming & Diving State Championships held on November 19 in Stuart, Florida. The combined results of Barrie Snyder’s individual first place finish in the 50 Freestyle and the three first place relay performances in the 200 Free, 200 Medley, and 400 Free secured the back-to-back title for the team.

Head Swim Coach Laurel Valley commented, “I am so proud of this team. At the beginning of the year, they set the lofty goal of repeating as state Champions. Through their hard work and dedication, they made that a reality. Our returning swimmers led the way, and we had a surprising addition of a freshman and two juniors, to round out a well-balanced team that was able to work together and bring back our second consecutive State Title. I am truly blessed to be able to coach such a great group of young men.”

Graham Evans ‘24

Evan Gardner ‘24

Christian Grden ‘25

Zach Jones ‘23

Owen Kerkezi ’25

Evan Larson ‘23

Matthew Leitheiser ‘24

Nicholas Leitheiser ‘24

Barrie Snyder ‘23

Carter Wright ‘26

The Girls’ Swim & Dive team also had a phenomenal finish to end their season.  They were District and Regional champions and placed third in State which was a tremendous improvement over their 2021 seventh place finish.

Photo Caption: (Bottom row) Assistant Coach Stephanie Jaeger, Head Coach Laurel Valley and Assistant Coach Dennis Candelora. (Top row) Evan Gardner, Barrie Snyder, Owen Kerkezi, Evan Larson, Carter Wright, Zach Jones, Graham Evans, Matthew Leitheiser, Nick Leitheiser, Christian Grden.

December Student of the Month:  Lilly Smith and Hattie Berengolts

Congratulations to senior Lilly Smith and canine Hattie Berengolts for being selected as Bishop Kenny’s December Student of the Month.  They were selected for Service, Generosity and Compassion.  Lilly believes that one of her greatest strengths is helping others, and she dedicates a large amount of her spare time to this endeavor through community service.  She said, “Everyone has the capacity to serve others and better the community.  It just takes utilizing your own talents and passions to serve others.” 

Lilly maintains a rigorous academic schedule while being involved in extra-curricular activities on and off the BK campus. She is a multi-sport athlete competing on the softball team, the competitive and sideline cheer team, and the elite dance team during her junior and senior years.  Lilly is the Senior Class President and a member of the Interact, Anchor, Medical Career and History Clubs.  She is also a member of Drug Free Duval Youth Co+Lab, Kairos, Night Vision, Student Council, and the Diversity Student Union.

Service at BK and in the community is especially important to Lilly.  She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, she participates with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and she volunteers with Camp I Am Special, earning over 1,400 service hours.  Lilly is a member of the English, Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa, Science, and National Honor Societies. Lilly would like to attend the University of Florida pursing a major in health sciences so that she can attend medical school specializing in pediatric medicine.

Hattie, the canine, is an official service dog extraordinaire, logging over 5,760 service hours at BK with his owner Jacob Berengolts.  Hattie was seven months old when she was given to Jacob from Project C.H.A.N.C.E., a local organization dedicated to providing service dogs to children.  Hattie and Jacob trained together for two years so that they could learn how to best support each other. Hattie is retiring this year as Jacob’s service dog as Jacob moves on to college, but she has plans to continue working as a therapy dog for students in the future. 

Amy Wilkerson Smith '92

Amy Wilkerson ’92 recalls her first day at Bishop Kenny as a very memorable one. It was her first day of her freshman year in high school, and she recalls sitting in Coach Lyons’ class and being called to the principal’s office.   Amy was thinking “I just got here; what could I have done?”  She walks into the principal’s office and, to her surprise, is informed that her dad won the tuition raffle!  Amongst her teachers, she recalls Coach Lyons’ being very intimidating, and that her favorite teacher was Ms. Marnett who taught math.  She says that Ms. Marnett was a hard teacher, but that she was also fair.  Amy had a great experience at Bishop Kenny filled with a lot of athletics including basketball and tennis. The girls’ basketball team became her second family. They spent all their time practicing, and together they made many memories. One of her greatest memories was when girls’ basketball team and Coach Orlando went to the state championship three years in a row and won the title all three times.  Amy’s competitive nature served her well not only in sports, but in life as well.

Amy went on to attend the University of Florida where she received her degree in Finance.  Amy, like many at that age, was not sure what she was going to do after graduation. Between her junior and senior year in college, Amy had an internship at State Farm Insurance Company at its Southeast Regional office in Jacksonville.  She had a wonderful experience with State Farm and found that her internship was extremely attractive to many employers in the insurance industry.   Her senior year, Amy was offered a job with several insurance companies, ultimately choosing to accept an offer with Zurich Insurance Company as an underwriting trainee in Jackson, Mississippi.  After a couple of years in Jackson, Amy transferred with Zurich to Chicago and found herself working for a company which was in a transition period.   Wanting to have known her name and “not just being a number”, Amy left Chicago and went back to Jackson where she began work for Ross & Yerger Insurance, an independent insurance agency.  Ross & Yerger was founded in 1860 and was owned by the Yerger family for four generations.

Ross & Yerger specializes in providing risk management services to its clients through commercial insurance, employee benefits, financial institutions and private client services.  At 27, Amy became the manager of Ross & Yerger’s Commercial Lines Department (the largest department within the agency).  In 2002, Amy and eleven of her coworkers were able to purchase Ross & Yerger from the Yerger family.  At that time the company had about forty employees and generated approximately seven million dollars in revenue annually.  Today, Ross & Yerger consists of over 140 employees and generates thirty-four million dollars in revenue annually, with offices in three states.  Ross & Yerger is ranked the 99th largest Insurance Agency in the United States.

Amy was recently elected as the 2022-2023 Chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents of Mississippi (known in the industry as the “Big I”). Consisting of over 200 insurance agencies, the Big I is a trade association dedicated to representing the interests of independent insurance agencies on both the state and national level, including serving as an advocate for public policy issues affecting its members interests.  The association will be celebrating its 125th anniversary during Amy’s term as Chairman.

Amy’s advice to anyone getting into the industry today is that there is always a need for insurance in every aspect of the economy, and you will constantly learn something new every day.  Her best advice to anyone is just to work hard. Amy has made her mark in the insurance industry, and Bishop Kenny is so proud of her accomplishments.