Farragut-area teens top KCHS Class of 2023

Liulevicius, Pettinger receive Honor of Sedes Sapientiae

Knoxville Catholic High School recently selected its two brightest students, Paul Liulevicius of Farragut and Kate Pettinger of the Choto Road area, who earned the Honor of Sedes Sapientiae prior to KCHS graduation Friday, May 12.

This award, conferred to high school seniors, is the highest school honor a graduating senior can receive, said Pam Rhoades, KCHS director of marketing and communication.

She said it is voted on by faculty and administration then presented to two seniors who best epitomize scholarship, loyalty, service and leadership.

“I was stunned and pleased to have received the Sedes Sapientiae award, but realized that I (had) to write a speech for graduation and speak in front of hundreds,” Liulevicius said. “I am honored and humbled … those who win the award, in the estimation of the faculty, have contributed great good to the school and have performed charitable actions.

“Every day, I always try to be friendly and kind to those around me,” the Class of 2023 senior added. “At the same time, I also want to show Christ to others and to be a light in the world.”

The son of Vejas and Kathleen Liulevicius with a sister, Helen, the new graduate is involved in piano, taekwondo, Junior Cotillion and band.

“I take piano lessons locally with my brilliant teacher, Mrs. Barbara Maples, which I have been doing for almost 10 years,” Liulevicius said. “Every Tuesday and Wednesday, I help teach young students at Eun’s Martial Arts Center in Farragut with Grand Master (Seong) Eun. I started taekwondo in first grade, and I am currently a fourth-degree black belt.

”Once a month, I taught students ballroom dancing and etiquette at Junior Cotillion, led by Mrs. Mindy Coulter,” he added. “For almost eight years, I have played the alto saxophone in my school band under Mr. Jay Romines, four years at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Farragut and four at Knoxville Catholic High School.”

Reflecting on his time at KCHS, Liulevicius said the school “created the perfect environment to allow me to grow and to mature in my faith and to excel in academics through challenging classes and exceptional teachers.

“I was able to start a club, named the Future Investors Club, to teach students about investments and financial literacy,” he added.

“Both of my grandfathers inspired me. My grandfather on my father’s side taught algebraic topology at the college level while my other grandfather taught physics at the high school and college level.”

After graduation, the new graduate will attend Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic Benedictine College located outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I want to earn a degree in their program called Philosophy, Politics and Economics with a minor in the Great Books,” Liulevicius said. “I foresee a career involving economics.

“Ever since fourth grade, I have been fascinated by the stock market and wanted to become a businessman or investment professional,” he added.

“One of the biggest problems in the United States is financial illiteracy, which I would like to cure. My goal is to help and to teach individuals how they can use money wisely, to enable good acts and plans.”


Pettinger’s initial reaction to hearing she was honored was “complete shock; I was sitting there with my friend, and we were trying to guess who it was going to be; and when I heard my name, it took a couple of seconds to truly process. I think our grade is just full of incredibly gifted, kind-hearted people, and I hadn’t thought it would be me.”

However, “The designation is a complete honor for me,” said Pettinger, daughter of Tim and Kara Pettinger, with brothers, Jacob and Patrick.

“I really strive to be a positive energy to everyone I encounter, and the award in a way solidified that my efforts reach others,” she added. “I truly could not feel more honored to have been selected by the faculty that helped me blossom to be the person I am.”

Pettinger is a four-year member of the Lady Irish basketball team and girls lacrosse team, as well as a two-year member of the softball team.

“I love our athletics here at Catholic,” Pettinger said. “My coaches have aided me immensely in finding my voice and confidence to take on the world.”

She also participated in student council. And, “I enjoy a good French film or baking club meeting.”

As a KCHS student, “I feel Catholic embraces the wide variety of students that attend, helping each student find their voice and purpose,” she said. “I find it to be a place where the expectation is excellence, and they are going to make sure you reach that goal in whatever you do.

“I enjoyed my time at Catholic immensely and have formed a second family,” Pettinger added.

As for influences, “One of my biggest mentors throughout high school has been Carolyn Coach Dubbs’ Williamson. Her unceasing positivity and willingness to put herself out there have modeled for me the person I strive to be. She extends true Christian love and understanding always.

The graduate plans to attend University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the fall and study mechanical engineering.

“I hope to go into a career of environmentally sustainable product design,” Pettinger said. “I am motivated to find better solutions for the health and well-being of our planet and population.”

On weekends, Pettinger works at Texas Roadhouse.