Austin Hedges Featured in Baseball America, chosen for USA roster

JSerra’s stand-out catcher Austin Hedges can add a few new accolades to his resume, including being featured by Baseball America and chosen for a national team trial.

Austin Hedges

He caught the attention of national baseball writers last week at the Perfect Game National Showcase June 17-20 in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he led his team – featuring many of the nation’s best high school ballplayers – to the gold medal.

“He changes the game so much behind the plate,” JSerra baseball coach Brett Kay told the newspaper. “You can throw any pitch you want at any time, whether it’s going to be a dirty pitch or not, whether it’s going to be in the dirt or whatever, there’s a 99.9 percent chance it’s not going to get past him or he’s going to throw someone out by
30 feet. And the pitchers love it. What pitcher wouldn’t love throwing to Austin.”

And yesterday, Hedges was named to the USA 18-under trial roster and the second-team, all-Orange County baseball team.

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Fordham Water Polo Announces JSerra’s Clinkinbeard Will Join In 2010

From Fordham University’s website.

Ben Clinkinbeard, a JSerra 2010 graduate, will attend Fordham University in the fall where he will play water polo.

Fordham head coach Bill Harris announced the team’s incoming athletes in a press release on the team’s website. “The new recruits are all talented athletes coming from strong high school and club programs,” said Harris. “These incoming athletes will give us more depth in the field and especially in the goal where we had only one true goalie last season. They will be the foundation for our future success and will make our team stronger for the 2010 season. I look forward to working with them in the fall.”

The article spoke to the talent of each incoming athlete: “Clinkinbeard, a 5-8 attacker, was a two-time All-League selection at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. A two-year captain, he earned First Team All-League honors as a junior and led JSerra Catholic to its first CIF Championship final.”

Clinkinbeard was a 2006 Junior Olympics gold medalist and was named a First Team SPARE All-American in 2008. While at JSerra, Clinkinbeard was named to the honor roll all four years.

Click here to read the article on JSerra looks forward to hearing about Ben Clinkinbeard’s accomplishments in the pool and beyond.

‘You Would Not Believe’ How Much Time Co-Valedictorian Spent Studying

Victoria Farrah Manesh’s mother was the first female civilian in U.S. history appointed to direct and develop the educational program for Top Gun instructors at an east coast fighter squadron.

Co-valedictorian Victoria Farrah Manesh
photo by Eric Simonson

Following in her mother’s footsteps, JSerra’s co-valedictorian has already accomplished some incredible feats of her own, including an interview with Harvard University. Manesh – also the valedictorian of her middle school – is headed to the University of California, Berkeley, on a prestigious academic scholarship, after completing her high school education – earning straight A’s in all courses.

She’s worked hard to achieve so much in so little time.

How much time did she study to earn perfect marks during four years of AP and Honors classes, including three foreign languages?

“Please do not ask,” she responds. “You would not believe it.”

She plans to major in business and humanities with an emphasis on foreign language. 

What were your favorite subjects and why?

Favorite classes bring to mind History through Film—- a good introduction to the common use of film in college. I especially enjoyed AP and Honors English classes when I had the freedom to read what I consider the best in French Classic Literature – for example, fiction such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables.

What is your favorite JSerra memory?

The final honor of being named co-valedictorian… Also, during my time at JSerra, I had the privilege of filming in Hollywood with a part for a Department of Defense training film.

What teacher or class had the biggest impact on you and why?

It is difficult to name one teacher, so I won’t.  I value the instruction I received from Mr. Tom Smith, Department Chair for the Foreign Language Department. This department is managed so well and the teachers should be commended for their gifted, genuinely spirit-filled wisdom. They  recognize, respect and appreciate real student excellence— understanding a student’s work ethic in the real world.  These teachers possess great leadership and integrity. They deserve to have their names publicly recognized—- specifically Mr. Smith, Mr. Williams (AP Spanish) and Mr. Solorzano who have meaningfully contributed to my life. Frater Juan Diego, another favorite teacher, formerly with JSerra, also promoted a high level of sophistication in the classroom. He lectured occasionally from slick PowerPoint (presentations) featuring for example, Classical, Roman Architecture and High Renaissance Art , combined with classical music in the background.

Exceptional JSerra Students Volunteer Near And Far

By Katherine Bade

Christian service is an essential part of the JSerra educational experience because it reflects a fundamental component of the mission of our school – to take to heart the call of Christ to serve others. This year the recipients of the prestigious Christian Service Award are juniors Eddie Pruette and Courtney Avila, sophomores Trent Boice and Shea O’Reilly, and freshmen Hunter Kempf and Danielle White.

After speaking with two of the recipients of this award, it is evident that those who go above and beyond in their Christian Service all share a common denominator – a love for helping those in need.

Eddie Pruette
Photos by Eric Simonson
Eddie Pruette explains that, “helping a person in need is possibly one of the most fulfilling things a person could do.” This is a standard of excellence that JSerra seeks to instill in every student.

Pruette has done a majority of his Christian service with the JSerra Peru Club through which he has, “gone on two week-long trips to Piura, Peru where the other volunteers and I visited orphans, delivered supplies and built houses.”

If you are interested in participating in the JSerra Peru Club, Pruette welcomes you to speak to him and learn more about the wonderful cause.

Click here to read about the Peru Club’s trip to Piura this past school year.

Shea O'Reilly
Shea O’Reilly says that her experiences in service has dramatically impacted her life. Shea remarks that she has, “met some wonderful people from all different walks of life I never would have otherwise encountered. I’ve grown through each experience as they have all presented unique challenges and opportunities.”

She has volunteered at Nazareth Boys Orphanage in Tecate, Mexico and for several political campaigns, officials, and organizations, including work at the White House during President George W. Bush’s term, and the Susan B. Anthony Organization, also in Washington, D.C.

Courtney Avila has logged nearly 300 hours of service through National Charity League, and Special Camps for Special Kids where Hunter Kempf and Danielle White also volunteered. Special Camp for Special Kids provides a revolutionary educational and recreational summer day camp for youth with disabilities in one-to-one peer relationships with volunteer counselors. Trent Boice has completed at least 360 hours of service in just two years through his participation with Camp James, a leadership camp in Irvine.

Through acts of selflessness, these students have learned more about themselves while also learning about the significance of charity. They are generous with their time as they share it with those in need and have witnessed the reward of lending a helping hand.

To learn more about JSerra’s Christian Service program, graduation requirement, and ways to get involved, click here.

Co-Valedictorian Emily Storms: ‘Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do’

From left: Principal Tom Waszak, Co-Valedictorians Emily Storms and Victoria Manesh, and Fr. Vincent Gilmore. Photo by Eric Simonson.
Emily Storms, co-valedictorian of the 2010 class at JSerra Catholic High School, once told her father, Russ, what music she wanted played at his funeral.

“What kind?” he asked.

“I can’t tell you!” she said. “I want it to be a surprise.”

When she was 10 and 11, she was the only girl on her Pop Warner football team. She started on both sides of the ball. Despite being smaller than her teammates, she was the hardest hitter.

Storms’ humor and can-do spirit shined through in her June 5 graduation speech at JSerra – a speech in which she reminded the class of 2010 that the high school experience is about more than academic performance.

“It is not how we looked on paper or our specific individual achievements that I will remember most, however impressive these may be,” Storms said.

“No, I won’t remember the fame or glory we earned when we beat Santa Margarita in football, but rather the overwhelming feeling of community that flooded my senses as we all rushed the field together.

“The grades, assignments, homework and tests that we worked so hard to excel on will all be forgotten, but the vision of my friends and peers studying together every morning as I walked through the doors of the center room is branded upon my mind…

“It is the memories we share that I could never forget.”

Storms has a big brother who inspired her. Evan Storms, a graduate of Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim, also was class valedictorian. He will be a sophomore this fall at Stanford, where he is getting straight As majoring in economics and philosophy.

As much as Evan has served as a role model, however, Storms has forged a path that is as unique and singular as the comment in her senior yearbook: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, just get out of my way.”

A highlight of her time at JSerra was her co-founding of the Peru Club, which led to four trips to the impoverished South American country. The club is dedicated to raising money for orphans. The trip made a big impression on Storms.

“When you go to a foreign country, especially a country drowning in poverty, you are exposed to radically different ways of life, and you are forced to question your own,” Storms said.

“A lot of times, in the whirlwind of day-to-day life, it’s easy to get lost among the stress and routine of it all. But, after going to Peru, I had to ask myself what my motivation was for everything I was doing – if it was truly making me happy, and how it was impacting those around me.”

Storms will be attending Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. – a small school, with about 1,500 students. “It really takes a unique approach to education, with a strong emphasis on writing and a weaker emphasis on exams,” she said.

Her mother, Kathleen O’Connell, predicts she’ll continue to be successful because of her work ethic and natural talent.

“More importantly, she values relationships and friends above everything else. She is kind and caring to others,” her mother says. “She also has a great sense of humor!”

Emily plans to become a professor of psychology at a major university.

“Oh, and I want cats!’’ she said.

JSerra’s Growth Continues Despite Challenging Economy

* This column was published in the current edition of The Capistrano Dispatch

The budget crisis affecting the state’s public schools sadly turned into a recent street side spectacle in south Orange County.

Frank Talarico

The five-day teacher strike in the Capistrano Unified School District underscores the grave challenges facing the public education system.

And while 2,200 teachers in Capo Unified are dealing with the realities of 10.1 percent pay cut, their public outcry is symbolic of widespread frustration with the fiscal state of California’s public education system.

No one likes to see teachers hoisting picket signs. Unfortunately, the standoff in Capistrano Unified could be a sign of things to come.

Fortunately, JSerra Catholic High School continues to thrive, buffeted from the budgetary storms that are ravaging public schools.

Despite a harsh economy, enrollment at JSerra is up 100 students compared to the same time last year. No teachers at JSerra are in danger of losing their jobs because of the economy. In fact, there’s talk of expanding job benefits.

JSerra has not been forced to cut any science, art or extracurricular activities.

And while teachers at public school are being forced to contend with ever-increasing class sizes, class sizes at JSerra remain the same.

Bottom line, the quality education provided at JSerra is not being compromised despite the challenges of the economy. In fact, our school, closing in on wrapping up its seventh year, continues to thrive on all fronts, from academics to athletics to the arts.

Starting with the latter, the hills definitely are alive. The JSerra Theater Program recently presented the beloved musical The Sound of Music to the delight of families and the community.

Also on the arts front, the JSerra Chamber Choir and Advanced Women’s Ensemble recently traveled to New York City to compete in the invitation-only Elite Performance Series of the Festival at Carnegie Hall during the Festival of Gold Heritage Series.

Turning to recent academics achievements, junior Chloe Kempf was recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), having scored over a 201 on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test in 2009. She is among the 50,000 highest-scoring participants from some 1.5 million applicants. Kempf will also be part of our first pre-med magnet program classes, a unique new curriculum geared at training the next generation of medical professionals.

On the athletics front, we continue to make headlines. Our boys soccer team earned our first CIF championship in any sport – and our baseball team is ranked among the county’s best.

Hopefully, for the sake of Capo Unified and public schools everywhere, teachers and district leaders soon can reach agreement and get back to the business of educating our youth. Fortunately, at JSerra, that vital mission remains uninterrupted.