OC Register: Brett Kay is All-County Coach of the Year

The Orange County Register named its all-county baseball team today and two JSerra Catholic High School Lions topped the list – and Brett Kay was named Coach of the Year.

OC Register Photo of Coach Kay
OC Register Photo of Coach Kay

Slugger Austin Hedges was a first-team selection, and pitcher Joe Kurrasch was named to the second team.

“For a season (that) culminated a rapid rise with a young program in such a challenging league, Kay is the Register’s Orange County coach of the year in baseball,” wrote Register sports columnist Steve Fryer.

JSerra’s first Orange County Coach of the Year led The Lions to a 20-5 record and a No. 2 ranking heading into the playoffs. The Lions won the school’s first Trinity league baseball title and CIF playoff game before a second-round, 5-3 loss at Riverside Poly.

Austin Hedges
Austin Hedges

To read more about Kay, click here.

To read about Hedges, who hit .383 with 10 stolen bases, click here.

Congratulations to Coach Kay, Hedges, Kurrasch and the entire Lions baseball program on the most successful baseball season in JSerra history.

Saddleback Valley News: Co-Valedictorian Nicole Madro Strives to Make a Difference

The following story was published in today’s edition of the Saddleback Valley News:

Nicole Madro smiled so much on Saturday “my face hurt,” she said.

OC Register Photo of Nicole Madro
OC Register Photo of Nicole Madro
The reason: She ended a high school career filled with achievement on a high note – as co-valedictorian of JSerra Catholic High School’s fourth graduating class.

During her address to an audience of 2,000, classmates, friends and family members, Madro, 18, discussed some of the lessons she learned at JSerra.

Late one night, while she struggled to write a paper for an Advanced Placement English class, she noticed a biography of Mother Teresa on the floor of her Mission Viejo home.

The quote on the back cover: “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful.”

“Those words gave me a healthy dose of reality,” Madro said. “Schoolwork and grades (alone) cannot define someone as a good person.”

Madro finished high school with a 4.7 GPA and plans to attend Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school in Santa Paula, Calif.

And she hopes to make a difference beyond achievement in the classroom.

Madro’s “devotion to furthering the Gospel message through service,” combined with her extraordinary performance at JSerra, made her an ideal valedictorian, said principal Tom Waszak.

Here, we asked her to look back – and forward.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I will have finished college with a liberal arts degree, and I will probably be working to earn money for graduate school.  During college, I will hopefully have gained a better sense of how I can use my intellectual talents in a career that truly builds up society.

You volunteered as a peer leader at your church and with the Splendor of Life club. How have those experiences shaped you?

Working as a peer leader at St. Kilian’s helped me more confidently use the faith I have to serve others.  Our youth minister, Nick Braun, often reminded the leaders that we can serve the Church as we are, with our own unique God-given gifts.  Participating in peaceful protest and prayer with JSerra’s Splendor of Life club gave me the opportunity to pray for the needs of others and not just for my own needs.

Your family moved to Mission Viejo from Arizona your sophomore year. How was the transition to the JSerra community?
It went smoothly.  The people I met at JSerra were very welcoming.  I also enjoyed coming to a school with weekly Mass.

What do you think you’ll look back upon as your key high school moment? 

I don’t have a single defining moment of my high school experience.  I learned a lot about friendship – with God and with my peers.  But that did not come at one moment.  Different experiences taught me bits and pieces about friendship – certain lunchtime conversations, the Kairos retreat, the senior trip to Catalina, and some chemistry labs and English group projects stand out in my mind.

How much time do you spend reading, writing and studying?

A lot.  I don’t keep track of how much, because I enjoy learning.  Of course there are times where school feels like work, but there are other times where I just get really into reading a certain book or writing a certain paper and I want to make as much of the learning opportunity as I can.  When I do have free time, I will often spend it reading a book or article to answer some question I might have about the Catholic faith.

JSerra Class of ’09 at a Glance:
Graduates: 177
College scholarships: $2 million
Athletics: Soccer, lacrosse and baseball league champions
Community Service: More than 30,000 hours

OC Register: Co-Valedictorian Also a National Merit Scholar

High school graduation is a memorable occasion for any teen-ager.

Lexi Crommett
Lexi Crommett

For Lexi Crommett, 18, it will be a day she’ll never forget.

At JSerra Catholic High School’s graduation on Saturday, the co-valedictorian learned that she was the first student in the school’s six-year history to win a prestigious National Merit Scholarship.

Describing basketball as a metaphor for life, the school’s  
scholar-athlete-of-the-year then delivered a valedictory address to an audience of 2,000 classmates, and their families and friends.

The Orange County Register published a Q&A with Crommett today. To read it, click here.

JSerra Choirs Win Gold at Recent National Competition

JSerra Catholic High School’s Chamber Choir and Advanced Women’s Ensemble recently earned first-place gold awards at a national competition in San Francisco.

Judge Dr. Jocelyn Jensen, director of Choral Studies at the University of Las Vegas Nevada, cited JSerra’s ability to “paint a vocal picture (that) was breathtakingly beautiful, but also technically demanding and intellectually stimulating.”

The Lions beat 45 other choir groups from throughout the U.S. The victories qualify the choirs for the prestigious Festival of Gold competition in New York in 2010.

The choirs were awarded the overall trophy for division 2A, schools with 800 to 1,600-student enrollment. 

The school also earned a prestigious individual award. Student Tomohiro Majima was recognized with the Maestro Award for his violin accompaniment on the composition “Vine Hulpe di la Munte.”

“This is a remarkable achievement considering that JSerra’s choral program began less than two years ago,” said Tom Waszak, JSerra’s principal. “It’s important recognition of the outstanding commitment, hard work and talent of our choral students.”

The Chamber Choir is composed of 24 boys and girls and the Advanced Women’s Ensemble has 27 girls. The Heritage Festival was the first choral competition for JSerra students in the history of the program.

Andrew Alvarez established JSerra’s choral program in 2007, and serves as Director of Choral Music. “I’m proud of our students,” he said. “When we launched the choral program, it was our goal to have it become one of the top programs in the country. Thanks to our students’ dedication, positive attitude and talent, we’re well on our way.”