Alumni Profiles

Ben DiCola, Class of 1972

Ben DiCola, a 1972 alumnus of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, recently published a book titled ‘Mom's Magnavox'. The book is an autobiographical account of DiCola's childhood and adolescence, centered around his love for baseball. The book also touches on topics such as the value of hard work, discipline, and perseverance, and the importance of face-to-face communication in a world increasingly dominated by technology.

About the Book

In an interview, DiCola discussed how his education at St. Thomas Aquinas shaped his life and career. He stated that without Aquinas, he would never have attended college or become a published writer and public speaker. DiCola initially struggled with grades and was enrolled in courses that would prepare him for a trade, but he eventually transferred to a college prep curriculum. It was through speech and drama courses at Aquinas that his passion for writing and storytelling was ignited, and he credits his success to the perseverance he developed during his time at the school.

When asked about his time at Aquinas, DiCola shared, “Had I attended another school, I would never have written all the stories I have about Aquinas, nor would my path have crossed so many great kids, parents, families, and friends. Thanks to my Dad's vision and faith, things have fallen into place pretty nicely, I'd have to say!”

Although DiCola does not see a direct connection between Mom's Magnavox and St. Thomas Aquinas, he believes that the book can be inspirational to readers. He hopes that the book will encourage people to value family life and hard work and to communicate more face-to-face. DiCola also touches on baseball's connection to civil rights, and he hopes that readers will recognize the importance of peaceful communication and personal responsibility in creating a harmonious society.

“The book has many memorable moments. My 4-way heart bypass surgery was surely a life-changing moment, as was the sudden passing of my baseball idol, Roberto Clemente,” DiCola stated. “…collecting baseball cards, playing catch in the yard, attending ball games in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Most of all the influence and direction provided by my parents.”

Once a Knight, Always A Knight

DiCola’s time at STA has left a significant mark on his life. He mentions a few favorite memories from his school days, such as playing Cord Elum, the sheriff in the musical 'Oklahoma' during his senior year.

“Most of my memories are the athletic ones and came years after I graduated in 1972,” he says. “Winning the state football championship in 1984 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus has to be right up there. More recently, winning the regional title game in boys' basketball and qualifying for the state tournament in 2014.”

He adds that there have been many great Aquinas athletes and people he has written about and photographed over the years such as Mike Ranalli, Steve Barr, Athena Welsh, Celena McCoury, Anthony Moeglin, Jacob Paul, Katie Hiestand, Austin Hill, each creating a lasting memory.

Advice for Current and Future Knights
When asked about advice for Aquinas Knights participating in athletics, DiCola has a lot to offer.
“I believe perseverance and persistence pay off most in the long run. Never give up on your personal dreams. At the same time, playing team sports requires you to be selfless. You have to be just as passionate about the success of your teammates as you do your own success… [You must prioritize] hitting the books and pursuing your educational goals. Sports can help you get there, as you learn the value of working together for one common goal, living in the trenches with your teammates and friends, sacrificing your own personal goals for the good of the team, and always, always remembering that the name on the front of your jersey 'AQUINAS' is far more important than your name or number is worn on the back!”

Get your copy of Mom's Magnavox today!

Joseph Lewis, Class of 2019

The Story of Project Holiday Smile

Joseph Lewis is a 2019 St. Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) graduate. Lewis has started Project Holiday Smile, a fundraising project that provides gift cards and tangible gifts to families and individuals in need during the Christmas season. The project serves families located in Stark and Portage counties.

Lewis says Project Holiday Smile was born last year when he found himself eager to find a way to give back to those in his community. The project aims to take away some of the hardships many people face during the holiday season. This year, he is continuing the project and is looking forward to seeing it expand.

“Christmas has always been one of my favorite and most joyful times of the year,” said Lewis. “I know how fortunate I am because of that and I wanted to do whatever I could to help others feel that excitement, and happiness, and see the good in others.”

Lewis says his experiences at STA helped influence this project as it helped show him the importance of giving back. His time at STA showed him firsthand through various retreats and service projects the difference giving back can make.

“STA provided me with a great foundation academically and socially for life after high school,” he adds. “STA has also given me friends I still talk to, hang out with, and currently live with.”

Last year, Lewis met his goal of having 40 card games donated and collected nearly $1,000 worth of Giant Eagle and Walmart gift cards. This year, there is a gift registry for tangible items needed such as toys, stuffed animals, clothing, and more. In addition, gift cards are also being collected to help with essential needs and necessities. All items and money received go directly to the families and individuals in need.

Faith has played a large role in the formation of Project Holiday Smile. Lewis works with Catholic Charities to receive the list of families and individuals in need and their gift requests. Lewis says that service to others means a lot to him and to see so many people donate their time and money to give back to others is truly remarkable.

“I believe that we are all called to serve God and one way to do that is to serve those here on Earth; especially those going through difficult times,” Lewis said. “Actions so small can leave such a big impact on people's lives forever.”

Once a Knight, Always a Knight

When asked about his time at STA, Lewis mentioned that his favorite memories revolve around sports. Lewis fondly recalls great times at STA, including basketball, track meets and practices, Friday night games, and leading the student section for volleyball, football, and basketball games during his senior year.

“I would recommend STA to others because of its family-like atmosphere. At STA you can grow your connections with other students, teachers, and most importantly your faith, very easily and in a comfortable environment,” said Lewis. “One piece of advice I would give current, and future, students at STA would be to take advantage of everything that is offered, whether that is attending dances, going to sporting events you don’t usually go to, or taking challenging classes that are offered such as CCP courses or AP courses.”

While at STA, during his senior year, Lewis became the co-owner and co-founder of The Mulch Butlers, which is a landscaping company.  After graduating from STA, Lewis went on to attend Kent State University. He is currently a senior studying business management and graduating in the Spring of 2023. He is the son of Joe and Sandy Lewis and the brother of Elena and Alexa. He is currently a member of St. Paul Catholic Church (North Canton).

To donate to Project Holiday Smile, visit to shop the Walmart registry for available items. Monetary donations can also be sent via Venmo to “ProjectHolidaySmile” in which 100 percent of the money received goes towards the purchase of gifts.
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