OC Register: JSerra Student Transforms Into ‘Morning’

For the past three years, Chandler Nason has posed as living art at the popular Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters.

OC Register Photo of Chandler Nason
OC Register Photo of Chandler Nason

This year, she is the living picture of Maxfield Parrish’s 1922 oil on canvas painting “Morning.” And her image graces the cover of the 75-year-old pageant’s program.

The Orange County Register published an article earlier this week featuring Chandler. You can read it here.

JSerra Continues to Make News

This letter from CEO Frank Talarico was sent to members of the JSerra community yesterday.


The doctors told Garrett Grewe’s mother the chemo and radiation probably would cause brain damage. He might never be the same, they said.

The outstanding scholar has overcome incredible odds just to walk again. Today, Garrett prepares to begin his senior year as one of JSerra’s top golfers and an up-and-comer on the youth golf circuit.

Garrett Grewe
Garrett Grewe

On Friday, he was the subject of an inspirational feature story on the front page of the Orange County Register.

I hope you’ll share it with your friends and family.

Garrett wasn’t the only JSerra scholar-athlete to make news recently. Three more seniors from the Lions Trinity League championship baseball team earned college scholarships – and a fourth signed a letter of intent. That brings the number of Lions who will play top collegiate baseball next year to six. Read the Orange County Register story about it here.

And, in my most recent Capistrano Dispatch column, I shared some examples of how we work to achieve our goal of giving more to the community than we take. The latest example? Our new Community Relations Committee.

We look forward to sharing more exciting news with you as we prepare for the new school year. Please visit JSerra Blog and our Twitter for updates.

As always, thank you for your support. Working together, we will ensure that JSerra continues to develop young scholars who make a difference.

OC Register: He Dodged Death To Go Golfing

Garrett Grewe has overcome incredible odds to become one of JSerra’s top golfers.

Garrett Grewe
Garrett Grewe

Four years ago, he couldn’t walk – and doctors told his mother he might never be the same after discovering a lime-sized brain tumor.

“To see what he’s been through is inspiring,” said JSerra golf coach Brian Schippel.

Garrett’s amazing story was featured on the front page of Friday’s Orange County Register.

Please take a moment to read it here

JSerra’s Goal: Give More to the Community

The following column runs in the current edition of The Capistrano Dispatch.

By Frank Talarico
CEO of JSerra Catholic High School

JSerra Catholic High School’s list of accomplishments continues to grow.

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

This year alone, we graduated our first National Merit Scholar, earned our first Trinity League sports championships and will send all 176 members of the Class of 2009 to college.

But there’s another achievement that hasn’t generated as many headlines – our contributions to the San Juan Capistrano community.

One of JSerra’s key founding principles is to give more to the community than it takes.

I’m proud of our local community service record. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to do more. We do. And we will.

One way is through our new JSerra Community Relations Committee. We recently invited an accomplished cross-section of community leaders to join us. I’m thrilled to report that representatives from the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, Mission Basilica and the surrounding community have agreed to assist.

JSerra board member, parent and San Juan resident Kevin Baldridge will chair the committee. He told me he looks forward to finding creative new ways for us to contribute.

“I believe we can add additional value to the community by working together to identify new opportunities for us to help make San Juan Capistrano a better place,” Baldridge said. “JSerra is already a positive influence. And San Juan is already an outstanding community. But there’s always room for improvement.”

Below are some recent examples of how JSerra is making a difference close to home.

Compared by some to an Ivy League university, JSerra’s $110-million campus serves as an important venue for community organizations to host their events. In the past year, 26 local sports leagues used our football, baseball, soccer and other athletic facilities. Also, burgeoning local churches of different faiths used our campus for a variety of events geared toward growing their congregations.

Our accomplished class of 2009 dedicated more than 15,000 hours of community service supporting local soup kitchens, building homes through Habitat for Humanity and mentoring younger children through Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.

JSerra awarded more than $3 million in financial aid, helping 100 San Juan families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to send their children to our school.

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

Our board members and parents donated millions of dollars to the Shea Center, Mission Preservation Society and other local charitable organizations.

Many of our top students participated as tutors to CREER: Comunidad y Familia underclassmen. The program, headed voluntarily by JSerra science teacher Betty Cappelletti, was such a success that there’s expansion talk. Our students built lasting friendships and helped the CREER students improve their grades.

Of course, the most important thing we do is develop future community leaders. I often say that we’re not only preparing our students for college; we’re preparing them for what they will become after college.

Co-valedictorian Lexi Crommett, our first National Merit Scholar, hopes to cure Alzheimer’s Disease. Our other co-valedictorian, Nicole Madro, isn’t sure where her liberal arts studies will lead her. Wherever it is, she says she hopes to use her academic skills to make the world a better place.

Stories of community service ambitions abound on our campus. As an institution, we are committed to leading by example.

Of course, we won’t only rely on school administrators and community volunteers.

We welcome everybody’s input.

With that in mind, we’ve set up a new “community hotline.” If you have any ideas about how we can do a better job, please contact us.

JSerra Continues to Make News

JSerra Catholic High School CEO Frank Talarico sent the following letter to parents, community members and others last week.

It started with a question? Would some of JSerra’s brightest juniors and seniors tutor underclassmen from under-served San Juan Capistrano neighborhoods?

The answer, of course, was yes. And with the leadership of Betty Cappelletti, our outstanding science instructor, the JSerra-CREER: Comunidad y Familia tutoring program was – and will continue to be – an incredible success.

The JSerra -CREER partnership was the subject of my most recent Capistrano Dispatch column.

The partnership wasn’t the only campus item to make recent headlines. The Orange County Register profiled our innovative music instructor, David Weinberg. Mr. Weinberg spends summers creating shows for high schools, colleges and drum corps across the nation.

And our co-valedictorians, Nicole Madro and Lexi Crommett, continue to draw attention. A group of local newspapers published this article about their divergent paths to extraordinary scholastic achievement.

We look forward to sharing more exciting news with you as we prepare for the new school year. Please visit JSerra Blog and our Twitter for updates.

As always, thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing you soon.


Two Lions Ballplayers Earn Scholarships and a Third Commits

Two more seniors from JSerra Catholic High School’s baseball team have earned collegiate scholarships – catcher Colton Plaia and shortstop Quinn Renner.

Quinn Renner
Quinn Renner

A third, junior Austin Hedges, verbally committed to UCLA.

Plaia, who hit .382 with two home runs and 20 RBI’s, will play next year at Loyola Marymount.

Renner is headed to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He hit .375 with one home run and 18 RBI’s.

And Hedges, who hit .383 with two home runs and 16 RBI’s, will play at UCLA at the conclusion of his high school career, Coach Brett Kay said.

Colton Plaia
Colton Plaia

“They are outstanding ballplayers and outstanding young men. I anticipate them having success at the next level,” said Kay, Orange County Register’s Coach of the Year.

The scholar-athletes join four other members of the Lions first Trinity League championship team who will play Division One baseball next year.

They are: pitcher Joe Kurrasch, UC Berkeley; Grahamm Wiest, Cal State Fullerton; Matt Paradise, Santa Clara and Todd del Toro, Air Force Academy.