Capo Dispatch: JSerra Catholic High School Comes of Age

The 2008-2009 school year was filled with accomplishments in and out of the classroom.

Below is a column authored by JSerra’s new President and CEO. It runs in the current issue of The Capistrano Dispatch.

By Frank Talarico

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

In my first official month at JSerra Catholic High School, I have been impressed to learn about the many accomplishments JSerra has made in just a few short years, and I am proud to be welcomed into the vibrant and growing community the school has built.

I know I’m not alone when I say, “What a year!”

Our 1,002 students volunteered more than 100,000 hours of community service. They gave back to the community at home through organizations such as San Juan Capistrano Big Brothers, Big Sisters – and across the globe on service missions to Mexico, Haiti, and Peru, to name a few.

Some won sports championships. Others became fluent in foreign languages. A few even mastered calculus.

Next week, we will hand 177 hard-earned diplomas to our fourth graduating class. The size of our first graduating class was just a quarter the size of our class of 2009.

Our graduates continue to raise the bar on achievement. They earned scholarships to top universities like the University of California at Berkeley and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Others are the first JSerra graduates to attend Yale University, the U.S. Naval Academy and Georgetown University.

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At the end of every school year, I enjoy reflecting on the accomplishments of the past – and thinking about the future. For virtually every JSerra graduate, that future includes college – a remarkable statistic.

Another remarkable statistic: For three consecutive years, JSerra was named one of the nation’s 50 best Catholic high schools by the Catholic High School Honor Roll. It’s the only high school in Orange County cited for excellence in faith, academics and civic values.

As the award notes, our accomplishments extend beyond the classroom.

In six years, we’ve provided $2.5 million in financial aid. One student of every 10 receives aid.

Our legacy in athletics is also growing. Earlier this year, JSerra’s boys soccer team won our first-ever Trinity League title. The achievement was matched by our boys lacrosse (Division II champs!) and baseball teams.

Baseball is still competing for a CIF title; please come cheer them on.

In every sport, our students compete on home turf that is the envy of high schools everywhere. And it’s not just our sports facilities that are world class.

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I often hear our campus compared to Ivy League universities. I love that feedback. We strive for excellence in everything we do, and are blessed to be able to offer such a comfortable learning environment. We believe it enhances the educational experience for our students.

We want the entire community to know what it’s like at JSerra, and invite you to visit us. This summer, we’re offering a series of camps for kids of all ages, faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. I encourage you to call or visit our Web site (www.jserra.org/lions) for more information.

I’ll close with a comment about the economy’s impact on JSerra.

Unlike our public school brethren, JSerra has no plans to cut important academic, athletic and extracurricular programs. We are fortunate and proud to be able to provide our students with the same caliber of educational excellence as we always have, regardless of the difficult economic times.

Our financial stability and conservative management approach enables us to recruit a phenomenal teaching staff. Our small class sizes, outstanding facilities and commitment to excellence helps us retain them.

Our staff will continue the important work of challenging our future leaders to meet the highest educational and moral standards.

Indeed, it was an incredible year at JSerra.

I can’t wait for next year.