JSerra Medical Magnet Program Featured on Cox3

Frank Talarico and Betty Cappelletti had the opportunity to talk about all the great things happening with the Medical Magnet Program and partnership with Mission Hospital on Cox3’s Cox Forum, hosted by Terry Wedel. The show will air on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7pm on channel 3. Be sure to tune in and show support for JSerra.

For more check out Cox3

Additional airing dates/times:

Friday, Feb. 25 at 6pm

Saturday, Feb. 26 at 7pm

Tuesday, March 1 at 7pm

Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30pm

JSerra’s New On-line Education Program has Arrived

JSerra Debuts First On-Line Education Program at a Catholic High School in Region
Jonathan Horowitz hired to develop and administer program

Jonathan Horowitz, Capistrano Connections Academy

JSerra announced today that it will become the first Catholic high school in Orange County to add an on-line curriculum to its growing list of cutting-edge programs.
JSerra has hired Jonathan Horowitz, Ed. D., to develop and oversee the program. Horowitz, of Capistrano Beach, has served for the past three-and-a-half years as principal of Capistrano Connections Academy, an on-line school that serves 1,600 students in five counties.
“JSerra has demonstrated incredible vision in embracing an on-line curriculum for its students,” Horowitz said. “It will enable the young school to enroll students from a broader geographic region as well as allow for more diverse coursework for students. They are the first Catholic high school in the region that I’m aware of to embrace on-line education, and they will likely be a model for others.”
Frank Talarico, JSerra’s president and CEO, said the addition of on-line curriculum adds to the school’s value proposition.
“We have a medical magnet partnership with Mission Hospital, are about to launch a business magnet program with UC Irvine and are working towards programs in law and engineering,” he said. “It’s not just our $110-million campus that sets us apart. At JSerra, you get it all – incredible facilities, some of the most accomplished teachers, innovative new programs – all in a safe and wonderful community-focused environment.”
Initially, the program will allow eighth-graders to get a jump on high school by taking summer Health courses from home and high achievers to take more courses. Horowitz said he plans to meet individually with teachers and staff members to develop and shape the curriculum. The program will allow students to be “on-line graduates,” though students will spend time on campus to preserve the culture, officials said.
“The program will be comprehensive, complementing the existing courses and extending new opportunities that run the gamut from competitive Advanced Placement classes to foreign languages to everything in between,” he said.

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.

JSerra Earns Straight A’s, Too

JSerra Catholic High School is featured on the cover of this week’s Capistrano Dispatch newspaper. the edition also features a column by CEO Frank Talarico.

Our co-valedictorian summed it up best.

“It is true that no other class in this school’s history can match the range and depth of our accomplishments,” said Emily Storms.

Storms was one of two JSerra graduates to complete more than 20 honors and advanced-placement courses with straight A’s.

But she and co-valedictorian Victoria Manesh aren’t the only JSerra scholars worth celebrating.

Trevor Cutler earned our highest honor, the JSerra Award. The Eagle Scout finished with a 4.5 GPA and captained the cross country and track teams. But it was principal Tom Waszak’s announcement that Cutler would attend the Air Force Academy that drew a standing ovation at graduation.

“Your most impressive quality is your selfless desire to make a difference in your community and your country,” Waszak said.

To read the rest of the column, please click here.

JSerra Sees Surge in Interest From Parents Dissatisfied with Public Schools

* The Orange County Business Journal published a feature story today examining how California’s budget crisis is driving interest in private education.

JSerra is included prominently in the story, which is published below.

By Michael Volpe

The county’s top private schools are seeing a surge of interest, but that might not translate to more students for them.

Frank Talarico

From Anaheim-based, six-campus Fairmont Private Schools to San Juan Capistrano’s JSerra Catholic High School, private schools are seeing increased inquiries from parents, some of whom are dissatisfied with the current state of the county’s public school system, which is facing state budget cuts of about $280 million in the next school year.

“Our inquiries are up over the last few months with over 100 new applications,” said Robertson Chandler, chief executive at Fairmont.

But many of the applications are from families who can’t afford private school tuition, according to administrators.
As a result, private schools are looking to increase the amount of financial aid available to families.
St. Mary and All Angels School in Aliso Viejo bumped up its financial aid by 40% to accommodate some of these applicants.

Catholic high school JSerra allocated about $800,000 in financial assistance in the current academic year and is looking to increase it for next year’s crop of students.

“We don’t want money to be a reason that students can’t come to JSerra or can’t stay at JSerra,” said Frank Talarico, chief executive.

Santa Margarita Catholic High School increased its financial assistance by 16% for the upcoming school year. In the past two years, the school has increased tuition assistance by 35%.

The high school allocated $750,000 for the upcoming school year to be used for tuition assistance, which comes from school, private and church resources.

But, like others, the school doesn’t expect to meet all of the demand and is putting more effort into fundraising.
The effort on financial aid is being used not only to attract new students, but also to retain those who are now enrolled.

“It’s a daily decision our families are facing,” said Paul Carey, president of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita. “I deal with 20 families a week who are asking, ‘How do I meet my utility bills and make this month’s tuition payment?’”

Santa Margarita has in some cases increased the number of months a family has to meet their tuition expenses and re-evaluated some families’ financial aid allocations.

Business Decision

It isn’t a purely altruistic move for the private schools, which run like businesses.
Chandler estimates many private schools throughout the country have seen their enrollment drop anywhere from 7% to 12% in the past two years.

Having more financial aid is drawing applications.

Many private schools have seen the topic of financial aid come up from the beginning of the application process. It’s a change from the past where parents rarely brought up the need for assistance until late in the process.

“There is a culture of people comfortable about asking for financial aid as opposed to not even visiting,” said John O’Brien, director at St. Mary.

Financial aid has become a big part of JSerra’s message to current and prospective students, according to Talarico.

“JSerra has a reputation for being really expensive or not flexible with financial aid, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

Newport Beach’s Sage Hill School and others differ on how financial aid grants are given. Often a family earning as much as $100,000 a year could qualify for a sizable grant, according to Gordon McNeill, head of Sage Hill School.

“A lot of families who qualify don’t know they could qualify,” he said. “We encourage our families to go through the process and many have been surprised by the results.”

In many cases, private schools have frozen tuition costs.

“We were hearing from families that with the economy the way it was and coupled with increasing questions about financial aid, we held tuition at the same level as last year,” said St. Mary’s O’Brien.

But even with those measures, many applicants will not be able to afford to send their children to private school.

“Some families, even if they get some type of aid, are not used to paying for school in any shape or form,” McNeill said. “Inquires are up, but the jury is out until people sign on the dotted line that they are really going to come.”

JSerra Poised For Its Best Year Ever

CEO Frank Talarico sent the following letter to the JSerra community last week.

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

Last year was a big year for JSerra Catholic High School. We won our first Trinity League championships, graduated our largest senior class (including our first National Merit Scholarship winner) and contributed to the community in hundreds of notable ways.

In my latest Capistrano Dispatch column, I predicted that our seventh year would be our best yet.

I’m pleased to report we’re already on our way. We learned this week that Nicholas Stropko is a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist and that 33 of his classmates earned Advanced Placement Awards. JSerra also recently obtained important new financing that positions the school for long-term fiscal health.

We’ve also had a strong start in athletics. Our football team is 3-0, and our boys water polo and girls cross country teams are ranked among the best in the county. We also welcomed world-class new boys basketball, swimming and girls water polo coaches.

And then there’s our baseball team. Senior Bret Dahlson became the eighth Lion from last year’s Trinity League championship team to earn a big-time college scholarship. He announced last week that he’ll join Colton Plaia at Loyola Marymount.

I hope you’ve had a chance to visit our new Web site. We’ve received tremendous feedback regarding its look and functionality. As always, please visit JSerra Blog or our new Web site for the latest campus news and announcements.

It was fantastic to see many of you at our Welcome Mass and Fiesta, and we look forward to sharing more good news later this week at Back to School Night.

Best regards,


JSerra CEO: ‘This Will Be Our Best Year Yet’

The following column was published in the current edition of the Capistrano Dispatch.

By Frank Talarico

Last year was big for JSerra Catholic High School.

Frank Talarico
Frank Talarico

We won our first Trinity League sports championships, graduated our largest senior class (including our first National Merit Scholarship winner) and contributed to the community in hundreds of notable ways.

All our accomplishments last year beg the question: Can we top them this year?

Yes, we can.

I predict JSerra’s seventh year will be its best yet.

More than 200 seniors wearing freshly pressed uniforms walked through the halls of our $110-million campus on Sept. 1 – the first day of school. This is our biggest – and most talented – senior class yet.

Our student retention rate is also breaking JSerra records. It’s at 85% and climbing.

Here’s another telling statistic: During the worst recession since the Great Depression, we have maintained enrollment and may even grow enrollment for the year.

What do the numbers tell us?

They illustrate the tremendous value of a JSerra education. Families continue to invest in a JSerra education knowing it will prepare their children for a successful college career and to be contributing members of our society.

The value is especially evident now – as, sadly, neighboring public schools cut teachers, increase class sizes and eliminate important science, arts and extra-curricular programs because of harsh budgeting responsibilities.

At JSerra, we will continue to provide students the same high caliber educational excellence we always have. We are blessed with world-class instructors like Dr. Jan Kilduff, a former NASA consultant, who teaches Chemistry.

The good news extends beyond our classrooms and onto our renowned athletic fields.

Our boys’ soccer, boys’ lacrosse and baseball teams are gearing up to defend their titles. Our soccer team already showed its promise for the coming year, winning the Capo Valley summer league. The Orange County Register said goal-scoring juniors Juan Gutierrez and Dylan Seedman “have quite possibly developed into the most dangerous duo” in Orange County soccer.

Other sports programs are poised to join them in competing for titles.

One of our most exciting new additions over the summer was our hiring of Julie Swail-Ertel. A rare two-sport U.S. Olympian, Swail-Ertel directs our aquatics program and will coach girls’ water polo. Swail-Ertel led the U.S. water polo team to a silver medal in Sydney in 2000 – and competed in the triathlon in Beijing last year. Now, she’ll share her world-class knowledge and experience with all of our students.

And, of course, there’s the great family and community tradition of high school football. We invite the community to join us in enjoying a football game or rooting for other Lions sports teams.

To view our athletic teams’ schedules, I encourage you to visit our significantly enhanced website at http://www.jserra.org. It’s also a great place to find the latest campus news. Visit frequently because we’ll be updating the site regularly.

What else is new?

JSerra is launching its international student program, and will welcome students from as far away as South Korea to our community. The program introduces students from other countries and cultures to JSerra students while giving foreign students valuable experience in the U.S.

We’re looking for host families. Each family receives a stipend for housing the students for 11 months. If you’re interested, call us at 949-493-9307 ext. 1015.

And, finally, our new community relations committee began its important work of brainstorming new ways to raise the bar on our community contributions. I’m happy to inform you that we have several well-known community leaders working with us to help JSerra be an even better neighbor. I plan to report back when the ideas turn to implementation.

As you can see, the 2009-2010 school year is already shaping up to be a memorable one.

I hope to see you on campus soon – and can’t wait to share news of our progress.