By MIKE ZINN     4/25/2023

Truth, Service. Family and peace are the four foundational pillars that guide St. Norbert School in Orange.

These four pillars, so important to St. Norbert, are also key to the development of leadership at Orange County Catholic schools. St. Norbert eighth grade student, Kaitlyn Martinez is committed to these four pillars and many others.

St. Norbert Principal Joe Ciccoianni has known Martinez since kindergarten.

“Her best quality is her ability to be a very confident young women yet be very humble,” he said.

Martinez’s confidence became a “shining star” to her classmates earlier this school year. Martinez was the lead actor in the December Christmas program.

“She was upbeat and lively, setting the tone for the Christmas program,” said Ciccoianni. “She led by example and became immersed in her role. This freed the other students to follow her lead and be a little goofy and yet still cool.”

Mary Rogers, who serves as Student Council advisor, has had the opportunity to witness Martinez’s leadership abilities firsthand and on a regular basis.

“She leads by allowing others to have a voice,” said Rogers. “She lets fellow Student Council members take the journey themselves.”

Rogers also spoke of Martinez’s ability to rally everyone toward positivity for the school. In true leadership form, she turns negatives into positives.

Martinez began her education at St. Nobert’s in kindergarten. Her favorite subject is literature, and she likes to read and write poetry and stories. Last year, Ciccoianni taught Martinez in Literature.

“She embraced literature,” he said. Martinez serves as the Commissioner General for the Student Council. She has also played on the school volleyball team and has been an altar server.

After completing her St. Norbert’s education, Martinez would like to join her older sister at Rosary High School and possibly be involved in track and field, ASB and the Mock Trial program, which will prepare Martinez to fulfill her dream of being a lawyer.

One specific event in fourth grade was particularly instrumental for Martinez. Abby, her close friend since preschool was diagnosed with cancer. Martinez handed out St. Peregrine prayer cards to her class and they did a Novena for Abby. In 2020, Martinez wanted to do more to support Abby and her mom. Through the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, Martinez led an effort with over 50 Team Abby members to participate in a walkathon, host a team booth, handout t-shirts and raise funds. Her main goal was to make sure that Abby was never left behind and always remained part of the St. Norbert’s family.

Now in the final stretch of her eighth-grade school year, the reality of this ending is evident to Martinez.

“I will miss my classmates and the way they all love and support each other,” she said. Martinez particularly will miss working on the Catholic Schools Week project.

Always goal oriented, Martinez would like to conclude her St. Norbert’s career by receiving the Gold Cord at graduation. This Gold Cord signifies achieving the highest academic honors in the third trimester.

Martinez has proven herself to be a strong willed and focused student and leader. The future looks bright!