Two JSerra Juniors Receive “Book Awards” from Prestigious Universities

Each year universities across the country recognize the outstanding achievement of high school students at the end of their junior year by honoring them with a Book Award sponsored by their local alumni association. This is a prestigious award for a high school junior to receive. This year, JSerra students were recognized by the alumni associations of Princeton University and the University of Nebraska, two nationally known and prominent educational institutions.

At the Underclassmen Awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, Princeton alum and JSerra parent, Mr. Peter Bastone, and University of Nebraska alum and JSerra parent, Mr. John O’Reilly, took the stage to present the Book Award from their respective alma mater.

Shannon Brady
Princeton Book Award Recipient
Photo by Eric Simonson
Shannon Brady, the recipient of the Princeton Book Award, had this to say of her emotions when she heard her name called: “I was so happy, but I was shocked more than anything because I was not expecting it at all.”

According to the Princeton Alumni Club of Orange County website, the Princeton Book Award is presented by the Club to outstanding students at the end of their junior year at public and private secondary schools in the county. The criteria for the selection of the student includes: intellectual promise and academic excellence, exemplary service or extracurricular activities; and outstanding personal character.

In her three years at JSerra, Brady has been involved in soccer and lacrosse. She says these activities “helped me to branch out and get involved in the school. I met my best friends while playing sports. They also taught me how to manage my time efficiently.”

Shannon has enjoyed many of her classes while at JSerra, but her favorite has consistently been history. She loves history but says the main reason is the amazing teachers she has had.

Haleigh Cummings
Nebraska Book Award Recipient
Photo by Eric Simonson
The University of Nebraska Book Award is awarded to a junior who is considered “outstanding in English.” This year’s recipient was Haleigh Cummings. O’Reilly stated that JSerra was selected to receive an award because “it is an outstanding school and strong in academics, athletics, and Catholicism” which is particularly important to Mr. O’Reilly.

Mr. Chris Plaia, Cummings’ English teacher, describes her as “a hard worker who takes pride in her assignments while putting great effort into her work.” Cummings started out as a dedicated student who was determined, “to be a straight A student, and she has completed that as well.”

Cummings is also an outstanding athlete and has established herself as one of the best lacrosse players in the state. While she always strives to be a better athlete and student, she also pushes her teammates to be better players. Plaia added that Cummings “always has a smile on her face.”

CEO Lion Challenge Encourages Creativity in Freshmen

Parker Wells won JSerra's CEO Lion Challenge.
Photo by Eric Simonson
Imagine a website where people of all ages can participate in an online scavenger hunt for prizes – for free. How cool would that be? JSerra freshman Parker Wells certainly can imagine it. His internet company Find a Needle will utilize ad revenue and hunt sponsorships to turn a tidy profit while offering this fun social media website to internet users young and old.

This is the business plan Wells proposed that won him the CEO Lion Challenge award at this year’s Underclassmen Awards ceremony on Monday, June 7. His idea and presentation were so compelling – and so viable – that he had one guest panelist willing to help get the project going. His plan was chosen because it would have a quick time line and be profitable almost immediately due of low overhead.

The CEO Lion Challenge Award was new in 2010 and will be presented annually to a freshman. The award was created to recognize the winner of a competition that all freshmen participate as part of the Freshman Success curriculum. All freshmen students complete a project in which they create their own business with company logo, motto and a business plan that identifies their product or service, their target audience, and a budget. They also have to write a letter to a bank requesting a loan to fund their business plan. The finalists present their proposal to a review panel made up of teachers, administrators, and business owners from the community.

The other finalists were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Paul Wagner, and Ryer Baldridge.

Ryan Fitzpatrick presented the Decleat which is an attachment of cleats on to your choice of shoe. The panel of judges described Ryan as “the most passionate presenter of the day.” Although the product would be hard to sell and produce, Ryan’s passion and enthusiasm caused some of the judges to actually consider the product.

Paul Wagner submitted a company named Rent-A-Pet. His outstanding presentation, which included a portfolio on the business proposal and a PowerPoint presentation, impressed the judges.

Ryer Baldridge presented the X-Station, a video game product that would allow X-Box, Playstation, Wii, and other gaming console users to play online against each other. Through the X-Station, gamers would be able to play their friends or other opponents – utilizing different gaming platforms – via the internet.

Freshman Success teacher Steve Nieto says the project challenges our freshmen to “think outside, around, and in their creative box. As they open up their minds to what businesses should and need to be created, each student also becomes motivated by the challenge to compete and beat their freshmen peers.”

Our Freshmen Success course teaches study skills, test taking skills, technology skills, JSerra history, and the importance of ethics and morality at JSerra. Nieto adds “with the CEO Lion Challenge we now are adding to the curriculum creative thinking, healthy competition, and real world applications.”

JSerra Students Fight Cancer One Lap At A Time

The Mission Viejo Relay For Life event on June 5-6 at Saddleback College drew quite a crowd, including a dedicated team of JSerra students. The team was led by student chair and JSerra junior Jenae McDonald. Other student participants were Jennifer Blair, Travis Kelly, Basia Klein, Joey LiMandri, Jovy Mann, Erika Peratoner, Tori Petersen, Andie Reed, Garrett Rowley, and Jessica Sitton.

Team members made a team banner and signs, made and sold 12 dozen cookies, circulated surveys, educated other teens on skin cancer awareness and assisted the event planners with central registration and the silent auction. Through selling cookies, recycling efforts, a silent auction donation, and several cash donations, the team raised over $400 for the cause.

The annual event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, is a two-day, fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs. During the event, teams take turns walking or running laps. At nightfall, hundreds of luminaries are lit in a moving ceremony to honor cancer survivors and remember those who lost their battle to the disease.

Roughly 647 registered participants and 65 teams raised more than $100,000 for the Mission Viejo Relay for Life. The fun-filled event also included an impressive lineup of entertainers such as Tha Way Out who performed throughout the weekend. The young singers were semi-finalists on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

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