The 2018 crop of graduates from the county’s Catholic high schools represent all that a Catholic education has to offer

By Meg Waters     6/11/2018

In addition to the many spiritual gifts Catholics and the Church give to the community are the thousands of young people educated in our Catholic schools. Many go on to contribute to the community as leaders in business, medicine, science, philanthropy and government. This year’s bumper crop of seniors is no exception.  

Most students attending one of the six Catholic high schools in Orange County go on to attend a four-year college and many also receive scholarships. The Diocesan Catholic high schools are: Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Rosary in Fullerton, and Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita. JSerra in San Juan Capistrano, Cornelia Connelly in Anaheim and Servite in Anaheim are not Diocesan schools but are closely aligned with the Diocese.  

According to Josh Beckman, director of communications for Servite High School, among the many Friars to graduate this year, Patrick Aimone and Aidan Tice are representative of Servite’s commitment to forming leaders rooted in the Catholic Faith. Senior Patrick Aimone is receiving $100,000 over four years from Notre Dame University under the prestigious Hesburgh-Yusko Scholarship. Under this program, scholars will be required to work in a service capacity anywhere in the country to develop their leadership and civic engagement skills. 

Aidan Tice began as a leader of Servite’s Sanberg International Leadership Program, which introduces students to critical foreign languages, study abroad, and special classes focused on leadership, formation, and personal cultivation informed by the charisms of the Servite Order. He was awarded a substantial scholarship to Fordham, a Jesuit University in New York City. 

In Rancho Santa Margarita, Justin Calbreath, IB Coordinator and Counselor for Santa Margarita High School, said model Eagles embody the school’s focus on “Caritas Christi” or love of Christ to form students well-balanced in religious, academic, physical and social development. Seattle University gave Susannah Sherwood a Sullivan Leadership Award, which covers full tuition, room and board for four years. Susannah is both an academic leader, but as a 10th grader she started “Eagles Against Human Trafficking” a student organization, and also partnered with Campus Ministry to bring speakers to campus. She volunteered many hours with “Side-by-Side” ministry on Friday nights in Santa Ana.  

Rhys Biddiscombe will be heading to the University of Michigan with a full ride ROTC Scholarship. He was a member of the Eagles basketball team all four years and still found time to excel academically. Rhys volunteers for Operation Help a Hero where he helps look after children who have a parent deployed overseas, giving the parent at home a little respite time. He is also a mentor coaching children’s basketball for the OC Magic Basketball Youth Camp and Special Olympics.  

At Orange County’s newest Catholic high school, JSerra in San Juan Capistrano, Lion Nation has been graduating seniors steeped in faith, intellect and character. Director of College Counseling, Olivia Huie, said that Marie Chahrouri and Caitlyn Casper are excellent examples of J Serra graduates. 

Marie Chahrouri will attend the venerable Jesuit Seattle University in historic Capitol Hill area of Seattle. An impressive athlete, she is a four-year letterman, and team captain for JSerra’s Cross Country team, leading to a $143,000 scholarship from the university to run in the school’s Division 1 Cross Country team. According to Huie, “I admire Marie’s resolve, authentic joy and her genuine love of learning. She is an incredibly dedicated worker, leader by example and someone who is motivated to achieve her personal best.” 

Caitlyn Casper received a scholarship from the University of Portland. “(She) has excellent empathy skills, making her a most trustworthy and compassionate friend to others,” said JSerra Dean Bridget Desmond. “She has impeccable time management skills often holding a 20-hour a week job, rigorous classes and leadership roles on campus like Caritis Christi and being the president of Transfer Lions’ Club, which is our mentor program for transfer students. She will succeed wherever she goes.” 

Anyone who might be worried about the current crop of young people can be heartened by the character and achievements of these and the hundreds of other seniors who will be graduating from our Orange County Catholic high schools. These schools are not only forming well-educated faith-based leaders for our community, they are also forming our Catholic Church of the future. When the many controversies and crisis’ du jour are long forgotten, these exceptional students will be leaders putting their faith and their education to the service of the community.