Editor's Note: The FACE of Saint Joe's is a reference to an admissions principle that describes the four key areas of the Saint Joseph Experience: Formation, Academics, Community, and Extracurricular Activities. The FACE of Saint Joe's guides students on a path of success inside and outside the classroom, during and after their Saint Joseph journey is complete. This article is the first of a monthly series on the FACEs of Saint Joe's.
"He gives his all."
This phrase, included in an email from Brother Ronald Hingle, S.C., to the entire Brothers of the Sacred Heart community in August radiates a feeling of pride. Of respect. Of gratitude.
Br. Ronnie was referring to one of the most well-rounded students who has walked the halls of Saint Joseph High School in recent history, a decorated German student, one of the top high school bowlers in New Jersey, and the third Falcon to earn the coveted Jerome Riso Scholarship, awarded to only one student from a Brothers of the Sacred Heart school – Devon Kiessling ‘24.
“Devon impressed the Council in several ways,” Hingle said, “Mainly because he seems to be taking full advantage of all Saint Joseph has to offer. When Devon makes a commitment to himself, his team, or his community, he gives his all.”
Ask anyone who has come into contact with Kiessling over the last four years and they will say the same thing - he strives to be the best student, athlete and person possible.
When you speak with Kiessling, you get an aura of confidence. You see someone who is never content with being average. He wants to be the best, and he’ll do anything to get there.
“I’m all in,” Keissling said. “I know I am definitely putting forward my best effort. To think that someone else sees that I’m giving my all makes me feel a lot more confident in what I do inside and outside the community.”
Kiessling wasn’t always as confident as he is today. Having been born with lifelong, profound hearing loss, he utilizes cochlear implants to gain some hearing functionality with his disability. Kiessling has endured more than his fair share of roadblocks in his life.
Saint Joe’s entered his life at the perfect time. After struggling with several bullying incidents in middle school, he was looking for the right high school opportunity that would allow him to grow as a student and a young man. What he found at Saint Joe’s was a new home.
“My first year at Saint Joe’s I was beaming with a smile from cheek to cheek,” Kiessling said. “It was so heartwarming to see that these people would approach me to see how I was doing. They won’t just leave me behind because of my disability. They see that I’m a person, not just a number.”
Inside the classroom, his course load includes AP German Language and Culture, AP Calculus and Discrete Math and Linear Algebra, three of the toughest classes in the Saint Joe’s course catalog.
A three-time medalist on the National German Exam, Kiessling has become a role model for all world language students. According to Petra Jones, Saint Joe’s German teacher and World Languages Department Chair, Kiessling “works twice as hard as other students.”
“Devon has grown into an exceptional German student through his strong work ethic and commitment to his goals,” Jones said. “Devon decided early on in class that ‘German’ was his thing and he wanted to excel in it. In German, the word is ‘stolz,’ and in any language, his hard work and perseverance translates to making all of us at Saint Joe’s very proud.”
Outside the classroom, Kiessling takes advantage of the wide array of extracurricular opportunities available to students. Most days you can find him at the local bowling alley where he will head into the season as the No. 2 high school bowler in New Jersey.
“Last season was a wild ride, especially in the state individual tournament,” Kiessling said. “Just knowing that I was leading the whole tournament after the first round, I was thinking to myself, ‘Listen, you have a chance right now. You can do this.’”
The bowling alley is where Kiessling’s competitive edge comes alive and you get to experience who he really is. At any given moment, you see him coaching up his teammates, intensely focused on his next shot, or pacing down the corridors to hype himself up. Regardless of what he’s doing, Kiessling’s presence on the team is special.
“From freshman season to now, Devon has grown and matured immensely and demonstrates excellent leadership qualities for his teammates both on the lanes, as well as off the lanes on a daily basis,” Saint Joe’s bowling coach Russel Thomsen said. “He understands the importance of providing positive guidance and leadership, as well as being a role model for all of his teammates. I know I can count on him at all times for various tasks off the lanes, as well as being one of our ‘Leaders by Example’ on the lanes at all times.”
Kiessling’s actions are rooted in humility. Ask him any question related to his success at Saint Joe’s, and you will see what everyone else does: a confident young man who is thankful and gracious. But, most importantly, you’ll see someone who “gives it his all.”
- FACE of Saint Joe's