JSerra’s Class of 2013 Leaves a Record Breaking Legacy

IMG_0321Celebrating its tenth anniversary, JSerra has had its share of accomplishments but it is the class of 2013 that has helped mark the school’s first decade as truly remarkable.

The graduates have had national record-breaking swim championships, the school’s first Trinity League Athlete of the Year, a valedictorian with a record high GPA of 4.88, never before seen at JSerra, a cross country team who has won League, CIF, and State championships three times in a row, a first in the state of California, among countless other accomplishments.

With graduates attending top Universities like Duke, USC, Berkeley, Notre Dame, and more, they have collectively received more than $12.5 million in scholarships, the highest of any graduating class at JSerra.

As President Richard Meyer quoted St. John Paul “In the design of providence there is no coincidence.” It is not by mere coincidence that this graduating class has had many successes during their four short years as Lions.

With plenty of cheers from classmates this class has demonstrated the connectedness that is cultivated by the faculty, staff, and parents within the JSerra community.

Salutatorian Vanessa Zuck, delivered her address during the Baccalaureate Mass held on Friday evening. With a smile on her face she remembered her freshman year and the big win against Santa Margarita’s football team, and rushing the field at Saddleback. Zuck also recalled wise words from a past teacher, that remain with her to this day. “Never accept what your told but to learn it for yourself.” As the class of 2013 discovers new adventures in college, Zuck reminds them of what Louis Zamperini said while visiting campus, “while it may be sad to say goodbye, what matters is that we met.”

(left to right): President Richard Meyer, Valedictorian Sachin Govil, and Vice Principal Eric Stroupe
(left to right): President Richard Meyer, Valedictorian Sachin Govil, and Vice Principal Eric Stroupe

Valedictorian Sachin Govil, reminisced about his time at JSerra during his speech said, “It’s astonishing how life comes at us instantaneously, it grabs us and takes us on our own journeys… and in the midst of it, we don’t always appreciate the time we have and the people that we share it with.”

Among those honored where Monica Patel the recipient of the JSerra Award, acknowledged for exemplifying JSerra’s mission and philosophy.  The highest honor a student can receive at JSerra. Jovy Mann receiving the Msgr. Martin Award, Owen Hosseinzadeh receiving the Gillian Sabet Award, Saseen Najjar receiving the Lion Award, Ryer Baldridge acknowledged with the Leadership Award, Madison Myers-Cook received the Campus Ministry Award, Andrew Lee for the Spirit Award, and Josephine Duran receiving the Christian Service Award for her 2,500 hours donated in community service.

To view the complete photo album from Graduation please click Class of 2013.

Be sure to tag your photos with the hashtag #Classof2013 to share on Instagram.

JSerra Graduates Look Back—and Forward

Photo by Vicki Finelt

By Penny Arevalo, Patch.com

Wearing leis made of everything from flowers to dollars bills to candy, the JSerra Catholic High School’s class of 2012 walked into the school’s pavilion for the last time as students and boldly walked out as graduates.

Not long ago their parents were staring down at them as newborns in swaddling blankets, thinking, “What do I do with that?” Principal Eric Stroupe said.

Now the seniors are off to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Gonzaga University, Auburn, Illinois, Georgia Institute of Technology, Notre Dame and many others.

To read the complete article click Patch.

JSerra Graduates its Largest Class Yet

JSerra 2012 Valedictorian Tommy Allen with Vice Principal Eric Stroupe in recognition of his accomplishments.

“It’s a thrill to fulfill your childhood dreams but it’s more fulfilling to help others achieve theirs,” said Eric Stroupe, JSerra Vice Principal. “And that’s just what this graduating class has done.”

The class of 2012 is the largest graduating class in JSerra’s nine-year history with 257 graduates, and is the most family-like class. With over 35,000 hours of community service cumulatively, and Valedictorian Thomas Allen naming himself the “go-to student to explain concepts to students in new ways,” the class of 2012 has left a lasting mark on the JSerra Community.

For the first time in JSerra history there are seven graduates with distinction of the Business Magnet Program in its inaugural year.

Father Spitzer closing the commencement ceremony with a benediction.

Daniele Perazzo is a Berkeley bound future neurologist and Pre-Medical Professional Magnet Program honoree.

Sam Miller made his mark as JSerra’s first Stanford admit and 2012 Salutatorian.

Jacqueline Harkins received this year’s JSerra Award, the highest honor a student may receive from the school.

“Jacque impresses me her upbeat personality, and ability to navigate
 difficult situations. I often witness Jacque walking around school
 willing to engage anyone in a conversation, and she won’t adhere to clicks,” said Stroupe.

Closing the chapter on the class of 2012 was JSerra Rector Father Robert Spitzer, with words of encouragement and strength to the students.

To view the complete photo album click Class of 2012.

Co-Valedictorian Emily Storms: ‘Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do’

From left: Principal Tom Waszak, Co-Valedictorians Emily Storms and Victoria Manesh, and Fr. Vincent Gilmore. Photo by Eric Simonson.
Emily Storms, co-valedictorian of the 2010 class at JSerra Catholic High School, once told her father, Russ, what music she wanted played at his funeral.

“What kind?” he asked.

“I can’t tell you!” she said. “I want it to be a surprise.”

When she was 10 and 11, she was the only girl on her Pop Warner football team. She started on both sides of the ball. Despite being smaller than her teammates, she was the hardest hitter.

Storms’ humor and can-do spirit shined through in her June 5 graduation speech at JSerra – a speech in which she reminded the class of 2010 that the high school experience is about more than academic performance.

“It is not how we looked on paper or our specific individual achievements that I will remember most, however impressive these may be,” Storms said.

“No, I won’t remember the fame or glory we earned when we beat Santa Margarita in football, but rather the overwhelming feeling of community that flooded my senses as we all rushed the field together.

“The grades, assignments, homework and tests that we worked so hard to excel on will all be forgotten, but the vision of my friends and peers studying together every morning as I walked through the doors of the center room is branded upon my mind…

“It is the memories we share that I could never forget.”

Storms has a big brother who inspired her. Evan Storms, a graduate of Fairmont Preparatory Academy in Anaheim, also was class valedictorian. He will be a sophomore this fall at Stanford, where he is getting straight As majoring in economics and philosophy.

As much as Evan has served as a role model, however, Storms has forged a path that is as unique and singular as the comment in her senior yearbook: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, just get out of my way.”

A highlight of her time at JSerra was her co-founding of the Peru Club, which led to four trips to the impoverished South American country. The club is dedicated to raising money for orphans. The trip made a big impression on Storms.

“When you go to a foreign country, especially a country drowning in poverty, you are exposed to radically different ways of life, and you are forced to question your own,” Storms said.

“A lot of times, in the whirlwind of day-to-day life, it’s easy to get lost among the stress and routine of it all. But, after going to Peru, I had to ask myself what my motivation was for everything I was doing – if it was truly making me happy, and how it was impacting those around me.”

Storms will be attending Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. – a small school, with about 1,500 students. “It really takes a unique approach to education, with a strong emphasis on writing and a weaker emphasis on exams,” she said.

Her mother, Kathleen O’Connell, predicts she’ll continue to be successful because of her work ethic and natural talent.

“More importantly, she values relationships and friends above everything else. She is kind and caring to others,” her mother says. “She also has a great sense of humor!”

Emily plans to become a professor of psychology at a major university.

“Oh, and I want cats!’’ she said.

Class of 2010 Breaks Records and Accomplishes Many “Firsts”

Graduates have many accomplishments to celebrate Photo by Eric Simonson
JSerra’s class of 2010 is breaking school records and accomplishing many “firsts.” For the 5th consecutive year, JSerra graduates are raising the bar for academic, athletic, and co-curricular excellence.

JSerra President Frank Talarico notes that “the administration and faculty have been honored to have the exceptional students of the class of 2010 as part of the JSerra community.” Principal Tom Waszak added “We know that, like their peers before them, these students are prepared to move onto college as successful, contributing members of their communities.”

The accomplishments of the class of 2010 are too numerous to list. Here are some of the highlights.

Co-Valedictorians Emily Storms (left) and Victoria Manesh (right)
Paul Ferrier is JSerra’s first graduate to be accepted to and attend MIT. He was also accepted to many other prestigious universities, including Cornell, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. Michelle Chang will attend Northwestern’s School of Communication, the top school in the field in the nation. Co-valedictorian Emily Storms will attend Sarah Lawrence and is the first JSerra student to be accepted to Wellesley and Barnard colleges.

As a class, our graduating seniors received 951 college acceptance letters from 303 colleges and universities. Seniors are attending 91 schools next year, adding to our impressive list of acceptances at colleges and universities across the country. The class produced 11 AP Scholars, 4 AP Scholars with Honors, and a National Merit Scholarship winner, Nick Stropko.

UC Berkeley and UCLA accepted 9 JSerra seniors each, USC accepted 12, and Notre Dame accepted 3. Four graduates will attend Berkeley (including co-valedictorian Victoria Manesh), three will attend UCLA , five will attend USC (including salutatorian Otto Behrle), and two will attend Notre Dame.

Ninety-nine percent of JSerra graduates will attend college next year. Thirty-two percent will attend an out-of state school, while sixty-eight percent will attend many of California’s prestigious colleges and universities.

Graduates of the class of 2010 were awarded at least $9,780,550 in college scholarships, an average of $41,094 per student.

Trevor Cutler, who will attend the US Air Force Academy, was awarded over $850,000 in scholarships. He was also accepted to West Point, another JSerra first, as well as the US Military Academy. Cutler was the winner of the school’s most prestigious commencement award, the JSerra Award.

Patrick Bowman received over $573,000 in scholarship awards. He will attend the University of San Diego where he will participate in the Navy ROTC program.

Nicole Jeschelnik, who will attend Georgia Southern University, received $530,500 in scholarships. Max Deering was awarded $454,800 in scholarship money, and will attend Santa Clara University. Michelle Rosol will attend UC Davis and was awarded $417,200 in college scholarships. Nikolaas Kontrimas receives $414,500 in award money and will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In athletics, 13 students received athletic scholarships.
Bobby Brown – University of Redlands, Football
Ben Clinkinbeard – Fordham University, Water Polo
Bret Dahlson – Loyola Marymount University, Baseball
Katie DeYoung – USC, Cross Country
Chris Garcia – Saint Mary’s College, Cross Country
Samir Hanna – Chapman University, Football & Lacrosse
Chris Meinhold – UCLA, Water Polo
Taylor Mujica – Concordia University, Cross Country
Reed Reilly – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Baseball
Nick Santala – Cal Berkeley, Water Polo
Harrison Steed – Cal Berkeley, Track & Field
Sydney Teske – University of San Francisco, Cross Country
Grahamm Wiest – Cal State Fullerton, Baseball

Keeping Up With Steed A Difficult Task

JSerra senior and star high jumper Harrison Steed had a busy weekend. In addition to participating in the 2010 commencement activities at JSerra this past Saturday, Steed also competed in the state track and field competition in high jump and headed to UC Berkeley for his college orientation. Click here to read the OCvarsity.com article on Steed’s whirl wind weekend.

Congratulations to Harrison for his exceptional showing at state. His 6’9″ jump earned him the 4th place title.

Salutatorian Also Excels Outside the Classroom

He’s a scholar and an athlete.

Otto Behrle

And after Saturday’s graduation ceremony, Otto Behrle, 18, can add JSerra Catholic High School salutatorian to his resume.

The JSerra stand-out wide receiver also posted big numbers in the classroom, finishing with a 4.42 GPA.

Behrle, of San Juan Capistrano, plans to hang up his cleats and focus on his studies this fall at USC.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do,” he says. “But I do know that I want to get in the business field and work with numbers.”

Why did you choose JSerra?

Because I had a lot of opportunity here and a great chance at success.

How well did JSerra prepare you for college – and life beyond? Why?

They taught me valuable lessons and gave me the tools to succeed at the next level.

How did beating Santa Margarita in football rank among your best high school memories?

Definitely among the top few, if not the best, because of the magnitude the game. All the preparation and hours had paid off.

What was your favorite and least favorite subjects and why?

My favorite subjects were math and science because of the teachers and my ability to excel. English was my least favorite.

How challenging was it to balance a demanding athletic schedule with your coursework?

I thought it was very demanding with football. The fall semester of each year would always be the toughest because I had to balance the multiple activities.

What advice would you give to scholar athletes trying to emulate your success?

Make sure to keep a balanced load while keeping your grades up.

How much time did you spend studying?

I spent anywhere between 2-4 hours studying for all 7 periods

What is your favorite JSerra memory?

As of right now, Grad Night.

What advice would you give to incoming freshman?

Get involved in as much as you can because the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.