JSerra Catholic High School Valedictorians Take Different Paths to Extraordinary Achievement

The story below ran in this week’s edition of Mission Viejo News, Coto de Caza News, Rancho Santa Margarita News and Ladera Ranch News.

One was a star long-distance runner and athlete. The other spends her free time mentoring younger children and doing community service.

Despite their divergent passions, Lexi Crommett, of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Nicole Madro, of Mission Viejo, share one common trait: Extraordinary scholastic and extracurricular excellence.

The 18-year-olds were JSerra Catholic High School’s 2009 co-valedictorians.

Valedictorians Lexi Crommett and Nicole Madro with Principal Tom Wazsak
Valedictorians Lexi Crommett and Nicole Madro with Principal Tom Waszak

Crommett, the school’s scholar-athlete of the year, will attend Texas A&M next year on a full scholarship. She plans to major in math and neuroscience, and says she hopes someday to cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

Madro, who finished with a 4.7 grade-point average, will attend Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Santa Paula, Calif. She’s not sure what the future holds, but hopes college helps her gain a sense of “how I can use my intellectual talents in a career that truly builds up society.”

“Lexi and Nicole both share a love for intellectual challenges and they both possess a curiosity for knowledge that transcends the typical high school student,” said Tom Waszak, JSerra’s founding principal. They “are exceptional examples of JSerra’s mission to provide a well-rounded education that values excellence in academics, extracurricular activities and spiritual development.”

At the graduation ceremony May 30, Crommett learned that she was the first student in JSerra’s six-year history to win a National Merit Scholarship (Madro was a semi-finalist). Crommett earned straight A’s and aced six honors and 10 Advanced Placement courses.

Madro also posted a perfect scholastic record, acing 13 honors and six Advanced Placement classes.

To be named valedictorian at a school like JSerra is an incredible achievement. Each of the school’s 176 graduates plans to attend college. Some earned scholarships to top universities like the Air Force Academy and the University of California, Berkeley, and 40-percent will attend a school outside California.

At the graduation ceremony, Waszak read a long list of Crommett’s and Madro’s accomplishments. They were members of the prestigious California Scholastic Federation, the National Honor Society and Principal’s Honor Roll for each semester at school.

“Do you see a pattern here?” Waszak asked. “We’re looking at two different facets of a beautifully polished diamond… They have taken different paths but they both apply the same skills to achieve their goals – hard work, focus and determination.”

Crommett earned varsity letters in three sports and competed in the state cross country championships. She also earned the school’s top awards for math and science.

Madro earned similar awards from the social studies and foreign language departments. She was also honored for her leadership with the Soul Sisters Club, Splendor of Life Club, Lily of Valley Orphanage and Catholic Worker. Last year, her peers selected her for the JSerra Christian Service Award.

In her valedictory address, Madro spoke about how she hopes to use her faith and determination to make the world a better place. “Always remember,” she concluded, “You are loved.”

Crommett artfully used the sport of basketball as a metaphor for life and encouraged classmates to “take a shot.”

“I learned a lot about friendship – with God and my peers,” Madro said of her high school experience.

“My little motto,” Crommett said, “is that you have to work hard and do your best in everything you do, so I just focus on what I’m doing at the moment, like running, and do my best.”

With more than 2,000 family members and friends on hand, Waszak concluded his introduction of the young scholars by saying: “You embody the values that JSerra strives to teach, not only in academics but in morality, faith, integrity, excellence, humility, and in service to others.”