JSerra Announces September Students of the Month

Congratulations to Alexander Gallestegui and Cara Calo for showing positive work ethic and community evolvement. Both have shown what it means to be part of the Lions Pride, below their teachers share comments about each student of the month.

Alexander Gallestegui, a sophomore, is one of the September Students of the Month.  Gallestegui was described by one of his teachers as “someone who is always prepared for class and one who is not afraid to ask questions. He is a young man who is well-liked by his peers and demonstrates core Christian values in his everyday life.”

His favorite Bible quote typifies his attitude, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).

“My family and God inspire me the most because they believe that I can make my dreams come true,” said Gallestegui.

Gallestegui hopes to attend either the University of Arizona or the Columbia Art College in Chicago, to pursue a career in either the performing arts or animation arts.  He is an accomplished artist and enjoys art, dancing, video games and traveling to “cool places.”

In his spare time, Gallestegui enjoys basketball, soccer and snowboarding.  Last year, he participated in the Environmentality Club and this year hopes to become involved in Habitat for Humanity.

Gallestegui says that since he’s attended JSerra he has learned how to work hard and at the same time have some fun.  His diligence and persistence are evidenced in Gallestegui favorite quote from Winston Churchill, “When you are going through hell, keep going.  Never, never, never give up.”

Cara Calo, a junior, is the September Student of the Month.  Calo is a very special young lady.  Last year, she suffered a serious concussion and subsequent surgery which left her with memory loss.  Despite the difficulties in maintaining her grades and keeping up with school work, one of her teachers said, “Through it all, she maintained her sweet spirit and put everything in God’s hands.”

Not surprisingly, her favorite quote is “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23).  Her teachers also say she is a wonderful role model for other’s.

“My mom is my role model because she is always there for me and because she’s a perfect example of a kind, giving person,” said Calo. Kindness runs in her family as Calo is involved in a Bible camp for kids, the Haiti Club, Environmentality Club, Cause 4 Paws, and Habitat for Humanity.

Calo enjoys playing piano, reading and hanging out with friends, she hopes to attend University of San Diego, Loyola Marymount University, UC Berkley or UC Santa Barbara.  After college Calo would like to pursue a career in psychology.

“During my time at JSerra I have learned to make long-lasting friendships and that I should always work hard because it will pay off in the end,” said Calo.

A Year-End Message from Incoming Principal Freeh

Dear Friends,

With great excitement and gratitude my wife, Helen, and I look forward to joining the JSerra family and working together with you in continuing to make our school a model of Catholic secondary education.

We had the great privilege and blessing this past week of welcoming into the world our daughter, Theresa Bernice, an event that reminded me of the unique creation that each of us is. To anyone involved in the high and noble calling of educating the young – parents, teachers, coaches and counselors – the birth of a child urges us to reflect anew on the gift and mystery of all human life and to renew our commitment to helping our sons and daughters fulfill the destiny God intends for them.

In living out our commitment to education, the essential quality for each of us is nothing less than love, for love looks attentively at the other, discerns what is most needed, and works diligently towards that end – creatively, patiently and hopefully. As we end the current academic year and look forward to the year to come, may all who teach do so with love, for only through love can we educate those entrusted to our care.

And warm congratulations to the Class of 2012 and to their proud parents. Godspeed to all the graduates: In your future paths, may you share with others the gifts of learning you have received.


John Freeh

Seven JSerra Students Receive National Latin Awards

Each year approximately 148,000 students in all 50 states and 13 foreign countries take the 2012 National Latin exam.  The students are measured against their peers in Latin I through IV, and this year JSerra is proud to have seven Latin Award recipients;

Ashleigh Luschei, Latin IV – Gold Medal Summa Cum Laude, Caitlin Pulone, Latin III – Silver Medal Maxima Cum Laude, Conner Thomsen, Latin III – Silver Medal Maxima Cum Laude, Trinity Wright, Latin III – Magna Cum Laude, Katia Bergstrom, Latin I – Cum Laude, James Brady, Latin I – Cum Laude, Tucker Squiers, Latin I – Certificate of Merit.

Join JSerra as we honor our seniors May 23 following the weekly Mass, in the Pavilion.

Congratulations to all of the JSerra award recipients.

For more information on the National Latin Exam click here.

JSerra hosts Surviving and Thriving in High School Night with college guidance mentor Debbie Morgan

*A Press Release from JSerra Catholic High School

JSerra Catholic High School is offering the Orange County community a free opportunity to have their questions answered about when to start looking into colleges for their children.

College guidance mentor Debbie Morgan will moderate a workshop called “Surviving and Thriving in High School.” The event is scheduled for Aug. 25 at the JSerra Pavilion at JSerra Catholic High School. It begins at 6:30 p.m.

“It is never too early to begin the process of thoughtful preparation – academically and personally,” Morgan said. “It is becoming more imperative for students with the hope, dream and goal of one day attending college to become well acquainted with what will be expected of them.”

“Debbie offers important tips on how to prepare for the future during these uncertain times. We hope parents take advantage of this one-time opportunity to hear from one of the region’s foremost education experts,” said Frank Talarico, JSerra President.

While the presentation is geared toward families with middle school and high school-age students, it offers information of value to all parents looking for tips about how to improve their children’s educational opportunities, Morgan said.

Morgan’s professional background includes serving as Capistrano Unified School District’s director of college guidance services from 1998 to 2007. She has an English degree from the University of Southern California.

About JSerra Catholic High School

Just eight years old, JSerra Catholic High School is quickly becoming one of the region’s top university preparatory institutions. Its graduates include National Merit Scholarship winners, Ivy League university students and Division I collegiate athletes. Located in San Juan Capistrano, the school features $110-million facilities, including a state-of-the-art $40 million athletic complex. For more, visit www.jserra.org.

Master Marathoner Olivia Huie Takes a Break to Chat with JSerra Blog

Director of Counseling, Olivia Huie

Climbing the Great Wall of China not once but twice, JSerra’s Director of Counseling Olivia Huie sat down with JSerra Blog to offer some interesting fun facts about this anteater alumnus.

How long have you been an Academic Counselor?

I’ve been a counselor for six years and at JSerra for three years.

What is your favorite topic to cover during the year? College and purpose

Were you involved in any clubs in high school or college?

I was the associated student body treasurer, secretary and president (not at the same time). I was also the founder of our drama club, so I was the drama queen.

What do you hope to accomplish before you retire?

I’d love to travel to at least a dozen different places out of the country. I’d also like to obtain a doctorate degree at some point.

What was your first job? I worked retail at a men’s clothing store in the mall.

What was your favorite high school memory?

Hanging out with friends at the same lunch table and eating chili cheese fries from the food truck that came everyday. We didn’t have a bistro or a cafeteria for that matter.

What was your childhood dream job? I wanted to be a pediatrician.

Were you voted anything in high school? I was voted class clown and best smile.

What’s your favorite sports team?

Notre Dame football is my favorite and only because I married into the cult.

If you could live in any time period other than now, what would it be?

The 60’s because it seemed groovy.

Who or what was your inspiration that drove you to become a Counselor?

I wanted to become a counselor when I worked with underprivileged youth in downtown LA. I figured they needed a good role model and a leader to help guide them to opportunities.  I felt like I needed to be that person to be the “change I wanted to see in the world.”


Food: Yogurtland, wine and cheese

TV Show: American Idol and HGTV

Animal: turtles and owls

Sports team: Chicago Bulls and ND Irish

Color: Purple

Vacation spot: Costa Rica

Author: I love Paulo Coehlo

Who is your celebrity crush? You’ll have to ask me this in person I’m not sharing. I don’t want him to find out.

Favorite band growing up: Milli Vanilli, until they got caught lip syncing at their own concert, and I saw it on TLC.

Fun Facts and Random Acts

In grad school, I decided to pick up running and had this goal to run a marathon before the age of 30. So, I joined Team in Training, an organization that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I had a special connection to blood cancer, so I thought it would be a great idea to train and give back at the same time.  I ran my first marathon in 2006 and have since completed four marathons and eight half marathons including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. I’m currently training to complete the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco this fall. I not only do it for the medals, but mainly to help those in need.

I also love photography and have won two contests where my pictures have been placed on the front pages in magazines.

Lastly, in the short time I’ve been a counselor I have been promoted twice to director of counseling.

Mr. Stroupe Given Canadian Interrogation

Pulled aside by Canadian Police just off of a flight from Maine at only 25 Eric Stroupe, JSerra’s Vice Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, literally gave a speech to get off the hook. Now see what he has been up to since his time under the bright lights of the Canadian Police and all the great things he has done to help shape the young minds of JSerra’s next generation.

Eric Stroupe out on the water while in high school.

How many years have you been teaching? Sixteen

How many years have you been teaching at JSerra? Eight

Whats your role at JSerra?

Vice Principal for Curriculum and Instruction

What is your favorite event during the school year?

Friday night football games!

Were you involved in any clubs in high school or college?

ASB President, band, basketball, Christians in Sport, CSF, NHS

What do you hope to accomplish before you retire?

Visit and camp at about dozen national parks with my family

What was your first job? “Courtesy clerk” (i.e., bag boy) at Vons

What was your favorite high school memory?

Running all of the ASB activities. Our ASB was quite a bit smaller than JSerra’s. The other three officers and I did a lot of the heavy lifting and put in a LOT of hours before and after school and on the weekends, but it was a blast! Our events were always well-attended and a lot of fun.

What was your childhood dream job? (astronaut, firefighter, etc) I wanted to be in Congress, probably as a Senator.

Were you voted anything in high school? (best eyes, best hair, etc) Most Likely to Succeed.

If you could live in any time period other than now, what would it be?

Post-WWII America

Who or what was your inspiration that drove you to become a teacher?

I love the process of learning and I love teaching. Wanting to continually learn more things led me to a career in education.

What was your favorite band growing up? Echo and the Bunnymen


Food: Sushi

TV Show: Law & Order

Animal: Dogs

Sports team: Raiders

Color: Blue

Author: Paul Johnson

Celebrity crush: Julia Roberts

Vacation spot: Outer Banks

Fun Fact & Random Acts:

When I was in grad school and about 25 years-old, I was given a full interrogation when entering Quebec, Canada from northern Maine. The Canadian border patrol questioned me (as well as a friend and my brother) for about 90 minutes asking me about my reasons for coming to Canada. We were placed in a room with a large, single light over a table, just as in the movies. At the time, I was on my way to speak at a convention in Quebec City, so my motives were legitimate.

But because I had been camping in Maine for about a week (without shaving or showering), I am sure the three of us looked rather sketchy. They kept asking me about my criminal record (which I didn’t have), whether or not I liked to fight, and what my intentions were with Canadian women. They finally released us once I was able to provide them a copy of my speech. Looking back it was quite funny, but at the time I was more than a little nervous!

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.