Tending Goals After Tragedy in San Juan

AvilaBy Megan Cuniff, OC Register

For Cinthia and Diana Avila, it still seems like a bad dream.

And it happened so fast. One moment their mother sat in her bedroom, nursing a crippling headache. Minutes later, emergency crews whisked her out of her San Juan Capistrano apartment into an ambulance. She arrived at Mission Hospital in a coma, and she never woke up.

Nearly four months have passed, but for the sisters, time seemed to freeze on that day.

“It still feels like it was all a dream and it didn’t happen,” said Diana, 25, and now 14-year-old Cinthia’s legal guardian. “Like she’s just going to walk in the door one day.”

But the sisters aren’t alone. Cinthia’s former soccer coach, Clyde Blackwelder, has set up a trust fund and is working to organize a network of community members to support Cinthia as she tries to do what no one in her family has ever before done: earn a college degree.

They’re off to a great start.

Carlos Solorzano, whose daughter Raquel is Cinthia’s best friend, secured Cinthia a scholarship to JSerra Catholic High School, where he teaches Spanish. Cinthia began her career as a Lion in August. She loves studying science and is interested in a career in nursing. She plans to try out for soccer this month.

To read more, click here.

JSerra Hosts Joy Splash to Benefit the NEGU Foundation

"Joy Splash" swimmers line up for a photo with U.S. Olympic swimmers, Julie Swail-Ertel (Women's 2000 Waterpolo Captain), of Irvine, Kaitlyn Sandeno (2000, 2004), of Irvine, and Chloe Sutton (2008, 2012), of Mission Viejo.  Photo Courtesy of David Bro, OC Register
“Joy Splash” swimmers line up for a photo with U.S. Olympic swimmers, Julie Swail-Ertel (Women’s 2000 Waterpolo Captain), of Irvine, Kaitlyn Sandeno (2000, 2004), of Irvine, and Chloe Sutton (2008, 2012), of Mission Viejo. Photo Courtesy of David Bro, OC Register

*By the OC Register

It was a day of family fun at JSerra Catholic High School’s pool for “Joy Splash.”

The event June 15 included swim relays, face painting, games, music, food and a chance to meet pro athletes like U.S. Olympic swimmers Kaitlin Sandeno and Chloe Sutton. Funds raised during the event benefit the Never Ever Give Up Foundation, which was started by Rancho Santa Margarita’s Jessie Rees, who died at age 12 of brain cancer.

To view the photo album from the event click Joy Splash.

Bishop Vann Celebrates at JSerra’s End-of-the-Year Mass

photo-29 copy 2“We are delighted that the Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann, has visited our Catholic School to address the students, faculty and administration. During his stay he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and blessed our new altar and retablo to be used for our weekly, all school Masses,” said JSerra Chairman, Tim Busch.

Following the Mass, Bishop Vann walked through campus and heard more about our students, our accomplishments and the history of JSerra.
 
A special thank you to Bishop Vann and the Busch family for their generous donation of the retablo and altar. 
 
For photos from Mass please click here.

Jenkins Named One of Six Hasbro ‘Heroes’

Carter Jenkins, Founder of
Carter Jenkins, Founder of Students for Safe Water

By Penny Arevalo, San Juan Capistrano Patch

Carter Jenkins is getting a scholarship for his work in bringing clean water to people in Central America.

Hasbro, which makes play-action heroes, has named a San Juan Capistrano boy one of six children across the nation as a real-life hero to his community.

Carter Jenkins, 15, a sophomore at JSerra Catholic High School, is in New York  to receive a $1,000 scholarship at a benefit.

Hasbro named Jenkins a “community action hero” for his work in founding Students for Safe Water, a nonprofit which brings latrines to families in Nicaragua.

According to a Hasbro press release, Carter raised $54,000, which allowed him to install 22 latrines in a village of more than 400 people. He also helped bring clean water to some 300 people in Saba, Honduras through the installation of new wells.

Also among the six is a 17-year-old Irvine boy and four other students – one as young as 8 – from across the country.

Bishop Vann Visits with JSerra Students On-campus

IMG_7027After a class project turned to a real-life experience, the students in Carmen Ribera’s religion class had a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Bishop Kevin Vann.

As part of the coursework in Ribera’s religion class the students were required to research Bishop Vann, who was appointed in 2012, and write him a letter inquiring about various facets of his journey to become a Bishop.

“I told the students we would send Bishop Vann their letters, thinking I would perhaps get a kind note back,” said Ribera. “To my surprise I received a phone call saying that he would like to come visit, I was blown away.”

A few weeks later Bishop Vann arrived on-campus and shared his life’s journey to eventually being appointed a Bishop. Reading from the letters the students sent him, he answered some questions they had submitted from their project.

Student (SQ): What has changed in your everyday life since becoming a Bishop?

Bishop Vann (BV): I think the biggest change has actually been learning to live in different areas. You have to be able to adapt to your surroundings, which can be challenging at times.

SQ: How did you design your coat of arms?

BV: Well each coat of arms is to be specific to each Bishop to express who you are. For mine I choose a blue crest to symbolize Mary, a French cross to symbolize reform, and two keys to symbolize the kingdom of heaven.

SQ: As a Bishop you are at the third level of the holy order, what’s the responsibility like?

BV: There are 1.3 million Catholics in California, a much bigger number then I have had in the past, however I try to not think about it and take it all one day at a time.

SQ: How did you get into your vocation?

BV: I came from a big family that had to sacrifice many things in order for us to attend Catholic schools growing up, which taught me how important it is to have a faith-filled educational background. This to me, translated into the importance of having a real relationship with Christ in my everyday life. I earned a degree in science and worked for a period of time before seeing more and more that Christ is in everything and that is when I joined the church.

SQ: What is one piece of advice you could give to help strengthen your relationship with God?

BV: You have to talk to God, and spend time together investing in your relationship. It is the same as if it were with a friend or spouse.

JSerra Swim Team Serves the Community During the Lenten Season

The swim team at
The swim team at

The JSerra swim team hosts a sock drive every year in March for the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen in Santa Ana. Over 800 local families are served each weekend at Loaves and Fishes. The families who come are often in need of basic items.

Four years ago, Coach McLaughlin asked Director Maria Dzida, if she could use her swim team to help in any way.  She responded with ‘socks’. As Mrs. Dzida spoke of the lenten season and the washing of the feet, this become our project.

Every Spring, the JSerra swim team collects socks and food items to donate to the kitchen. The swimmers spend the day serving and giving back to those in need.

“This is an amazing group of kids. It shows the size of the their hearts every time we walk into the building,” said McLaughlin. “I am so very blessed and proud to be their coach both in and out of the water. They understand that receiving and giving go hand in hand.”

Alumnus Named to the Gonzaga University Leadership Program

Sarah_DavidAfter a selective admissions process alumnus Sarah David (’12) has been selected as one of only 42 students chosen for Gonzaga University’s esteemed Comprehensive Leadership Program.

The program vetted through hundreds of applicants with numerous talents and a wealth of experiences to continue the tradition of studying leadership with an intellectual and ethical fervor.

David’s class of 2016 leadership team is encompassed of students from around the world including Alaska, California, and Thailand. “The interplay between the academic undertakings and leadership development promises to provide each student with further insight and skills to utilize in their endeavors at Gonzaga and in their professional careers,” stated a press release from the University.

Over the next three years in this leadership studies program, students will be challenged in new ways to understand themselves, their world, and their role in being leaders for others.

The Comprehensive Leadership Program at Gonzaga is a three-year program designed to offer students curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities to develop knowledge and skills for leadership.