AP Scholars, Magnet Programs, JSerra an Academic Powerhouse

Below is CEO and President Frank Talarico’s monthly Capistrano Dispatch column. It runs in the current edition.

JSerra may be the new kid on the block among parochial high schools in Orange County, but we’ve already taken grown-up steps to set the bar academically.

New and innovative academic programs illustrate our commitment to offering the best college preparatory experience possible.

We recently introduced a groundbreaking pre-medical professional magnet program for students who want to get a jump-start on medical studies.

A collaboration between JSerra and Mission Hospital, the program already has generated significant attention. Princeton University told us this month it will give special consideration to JSerra graduates who have a pre-med citation on their diplomas.

But we’re not stopping at medicine. We are also launching a pre-business professional magnet program in collaboration with the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine. About 60 students will participate in the intensive college-prep curriculum, which will expose students to UCI lecturers and allow them to join UCI’s prestigious clubs and associations.

As with the pre-med program, students enrolled in the pre-business program will receive a special citation on their diplomas when they graduate. We also are planning magnet programs in law and engineering. Stay tuned.

At a school with a record 52 “AP Scholars” this year alone – the most in our eight-year history – we must continue to innovate to stimulate our increasingly talented pool of young scholars.

Although JSerra prides itself in being strong in all areas academically, we are earning a special reputation for our strength in science and math. Part of the reason is our faculty, which includes former NASA consultant Mr. Jan Kilduff. Our popular science department chair, known for his wry sense of humor and uncanny ability to make complex courses such as chemistry, physics and pre-calculus accessible, shares my observation about the evolution of our students.

“It seems that every year, each new crop of students at JSerra is getting stronger academically, and I am continually expanding the content of my classes to meet the students thirst for knowledge,” Kilduff says.

It’s not just academics. There’s a lot to cheer about in athletics. Recently, four JSerra baseball players signed letters to play ball at major universities, and two female athletes signed up in other sports. Clay Williamson will play baseball at Cal State Fullerton, Austin Hedges at UCLA, Tyler Krause at UCI and Trent Boras at USC. Swimmer Casey Mims signed on at UC Berkeley, and Katherine Delaney, a member of the Trinity League champion girls’ cross-country team (a JSerra first), plans to run at Berkeley.

Meanwhile, members of the JSerra Chamber Choir prepare for a trip to Rome in April. Our choir has been granted the esteemed honor of singing for Pope Benedict XVI, and has been busy learning new music for this once-in-a-lifetime performance. The 10-day trip will include an audience with the pontiff as well as a religious pilgrimage.

For more information about the exciting things happening at JSerra, visit us at www.jserra.org.