JSerra Academics and Athletics Off to Big Start

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


By Frank Talarico

President and CEO

If the beginning of the school year was a 100-meter dash, then we got off the blocks faster than world champion sprinter Usain Bolt.

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

Forgive the sports metaphor, but our campus is buzzing over our athletic and academic accomplishments during the first month of the new school year.

It’s our best start ever, and we couldn’t be more excited.

When JSerra opened seven years ago, some doubters said we’d never compete in the legendary Trinity league.

We relished the underdog role.

Last year, our boys’ lacrosse, boys’ soccer and baseball teams provided a powerful preview of where we are headed.

The excitement builds.

This year, our boys’ water polo and girls’ cross country teams are ranked among Orange County’s best. Our football team is undefeated in preseason, and sportswriters for the first time are considering our team among the county’s best.

We’re also making big news off the field.

A few weeks ago, we announced that two former professional hockey legends – retired Anaheim Ducks David Karpa and Guy Hebert – are coaching the Ice Lions, Orange County’s first high school ice hockey team.  We also introduced our new boys’ basketball coach, Joedy Gardner, a former trainer of collegiate and NBA players. Over the summer, we also added aquatics director and girls water polo coach Julie Swail-Ertel, a rare two-sport Olympian; swimming coach Mary McLaughlin, a renowned coach and racer and boys’ volleyball coach Tim Layton, who played Division I college ball.

It’s no wonder membership in our new student spirit group, “Lion Nation,” is growing as fast as social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. Speaking of Twitter and Facebook, please follow JSerra sports and academic news on Twitter at “@JSerraCHS” and join our Facebook fan page.

There’s no denying that a robust athletics program is an important part of any successful high school community. And while we take seriously the social and physical development aspects of the sports experience, we are most focused on our performance inside the classroom.

There’s no debate about where we rank in academics. Each of last year’s graduates are headed to college. Last year, co-valedictorian Lexi Crommett became our first National Merit Scholar.  And this year, senior Nicholas Stropko is on a path to join her. He’s a semi-finalist in the national competition; seniors Trevor Cutler, Paul Ferrier and Erin Kavanaugh earned “Commended Students” honors in the same competition.

In another sign of our academic achievement, 34 JSerra students (and recent graduates) earned Advanced Placement Scholar awards. Crommett qualified for the highest honor – National AP Scholar – for achieving the highest score possible on every advanced placement test.

Could we be any more bullish about our prospects for the remainder of the year?Capo Dispatch Flag

Of course we can.

Our students are taking care of business on the field, in the classroom – AND in the community.

There was a lot of attention given to the recent San Juan Creek clean-up. Did you know 16 JSerra students were among the volunteers taking part in the important initiative?

As you might recall from a recent column, we have formed a community relations committee to look for new opportunities to contribute to San Juan Capistrano.

As part of the effort, we created a hotline for suggestions. Our participation in the creek clean up was among the suggestions we received.  Of course, we were happy to oblige.

Do you have an idea for us? Please call (949) 493-9307 ext. 7777.

In the meantime, please visit our new Web site www.jserra.org for upcoming event information.

Lion Nation wants YOU!