In 1599, William Shakespeare first penned the phrase, “timing is everything,” in his play, Julius Caesar. The Bard perhaps drew inspiration from Ecclesiastes 3:01 which begins “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens …”

Timing. Hedge fund managers, stand-up comics, and political desperados unanimously agree.

But that elusive and precious commodity often collides at the crosstown intersection with expectations as an essential pairing in determining the success of one’s strategy.

Expectations may first arrive as reasonable objectives. Quickly swerve into the non-negotiable mandates, hence the inevitable gargantuan weight resting around on every shoulder and conceivable move.  And rarely within the chaos do even the elite emerge to defy with raucous results not expected but beyond imagination, timing or not.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome the student body of St. Thomas High School. Success with significance and service. Yes, beyond imagination.

Those relentless who annually deliver the outrageous. Unmatched and unrivaled anywhere in America. Leaving stary-eyed outsiders to ponder, what shall they do when they grow up?

The latest student entrepreneurs cashed a shock-to-the-system $922,415 in annual Round Up raffle ticket sales with all monies contributing directly to the school’s tuition assistance program.

Wait, $922,415?

The Basilian tradition dates for nearly a century, long enough ago for George Gershwin, the great American songbook champion, to have collaborated on the initial soundtrack, perhaps a rhapsody in red and white.

Let the drums roll out
Let the trumpet call
While the people shout
“Strike up the band”

Hear the cymbals ring
Callin’ one and all
To the martial swing
Strike up the band

And the grandsons of those original pay-it-forward pioneers could have busted out to a banger from Jay Z, the King Kong of encores (including Encore) with a carefully crafted reminder, if necessary.

Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t

Simon Pham ‘24 set the mind-spinning pace with a scintillating individual sales total of $88,080 followed by sizzling Sam Moore ‘24 who booked a mighty mighty $73,095. Together, they shattered the previous best-ever mark held for 12 months by 2023 valedictorian Caleb Davis with $69,540.

Savor the staggering nature of more than $900,000 for a few seconds and swallow. The explosive volcanic 2024 sales erupted in the wake of a series of massive blasts: $819,770 in 2023, $670,610 in 2022, and $595,145 in 2021. The 11-year wrecking-ball rumblings now advance to nearly $6.7 million.

If not Gershwin or Jay Z, envision incomparable Stratocaster master Jeff Beck riffing in a resounding, rollicking theme of “A Train Kept A Rollin’.”  Or INXS upping the ante with a sonic assault accompaniment with daring frontman Michael Hutchence offering an otherworldly “New Sensation.”

Live, baby live
Now that the day is over
I got a new sensation
Mmm, perfect moments
But so impossible to refuse

Determined Anthony Hill ‘25 followed the historic bash brothers Pham and Moore with $22,540 in sales after $14,220 in 2023 and $11,540 in 2022.

Jonathan King ‘25 generated $21,080 after $11,660 in 2023.

James Quinlan ‘24 finished a fabulous five with $20,340 after $14,080 in 2023 and $13,990 in 2022.

Rounding out the riveting Round Up top 10:

Dominic D’Ambra ‘27 $15,900
Jeremy Fote ‘26 $15,300
Charles Madden ‘27 $15,120
Max Demarest ‘26 $9,520
Charles Garza ‘25 $9,230

The garage rock Von Bondies could provide a revival that reverberated throughout the Eagle Family – “C’mon C’mon C’mon C’mon.”

The like-minded and aspirant St. Thomas scholars – mentored by vice president for advancement Mark deTranaltas ‘83, alumni director Steve Cummings ‘07, and annual fund Coordinator Kenny Martin ‘01 – harnessed a collective, sustained, and aggressive surge to release a flood of philanthropy, assuring Basilian college preparatory in Houston remains alive and thriving.

The wrecking ball achievements proved record-smashing for the 19th time in 21 years and so electric to arouse the dead. Routinely required is a universal commitment, rather than reliance on a few luminescent efforts. But Pham emphatically emerged to combine a tenacity suitable for Shark Tank with a savvy Wolf of Wall Street. resilience to reduce even Gordon Gekko to veritable lap dog status.

Pham says “I embraced the humanity aspect. The majority of my large sales were face-to-face, letting the prospect know the purpose of St. Thomas is to support one another.

“It helps to know something about the people you contact, and their values, and try to convince them you share those values. Catholics often understand their deeper bond, more than what is man-made. And hopefully, during the one-on-one, I can get people to look beyond the money and see the kid and his purpose. I try to convince them they’re not just helping one family or one student but a community to grow, to see past the monetary exchange.”

Pham navigated one of the phenomenal Round Up careers in school history. He racked $18,000 in sales as a freshman, rolled in $21,000 as a sophomore, and another $31,000 in 2023. His grand finale didn’t tap out until “the last day, last hour, last minute.” The exclamation turn-in barely beat the closing-day shutdown. A mere “$30,000” crescendo.

“My initial goal was one student for one year (approx $22,000),” he says. “Then my attitude was to reach for two students. But I was only halfway through the season. Let’s keep it going. The key was to focus on the next person who benefits, not just the sell. When I realized who I was supporting, that was the motivation.”

The extended Eagle community again gathered on campus for the annual Sunday celebration of family and fun, food and friendship. Constant within every corner and crevice of 4500 Memorial Drive was the buzz of the robust raffle performance repeatedly bordering on the absurd. A wicked high school student-driven fundraiser unparalleled in the nation. The living example of goodness, discipline, and knowledge.

Perhaps Sinatra best understood the inner psyche of Basilian passion and compassion that forever drives the brotherhood unlike any other.

Cue iconic, impeccable Frank, until March 2, 2025.

Still, it’s a real good bet, the best is yet to come
Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?

Who’s to debate the timing?


Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.