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May 24, 2009

Annual all-star students named

Each year, the Catholic New World asks all of the Catholic high schools in the archdiocese to choose their “star students” to honor. The students can be academic all-stars, young men and women who devoted themselves to service or excelled in art. Some participated in multitudes of extracurricular activities; others overcame near-overwhelming obstacles. Read about them and see hope for the future.

St. Benedict High School

■ Jessica Cardona led the Kairos retreat; served as the vice president of the student council; starred in multiple productions with the school’s theater department; and was captain of the volleyball, cheerleading and softball teams. She coordinated Senior Week activities and a reception for juniors and their families following the Junior Leadership Mass. Cardona plans to attend North Park University.

■ Rey Perez is always willing to help teachers and classmates. His success in the classroom is not a surprise to his teachers, who expect Perez to do great things in his life. He played flag football and baseball and served on the prom committee. Perez has near perfect attendance and a 3.65 GPA. He will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago to pursue his dream of becoming a dentist.

Brother Rice

■ David Myrda served as manager for the football, basketball and baseball teams throughout his time at Brother Rice and was the public address announcer for the varsity baseball team his senior year. He was a student athletic trainer and president of the student council and sings in the church choir at his parish, St. Albert the Great. He will attend St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and major in mass communications. Myrda hopes to return to Brother Rice as a teacher.

■ Tim Singler served as editor of the school newspaper and yearbook and was service coordinator for the student council. He was the statistician for the football, basketball and water polo teams. He was a member of the National Honor Society and vice president of the Key Club. During his junior year, Singler led the class project that raised money for the Make-a-Wish foundation. He served as a counselor for the Edmund Rice youth summer camp. He is an altar server at St. Margaret of Scotland Parish and will attend Holy Cross College at Notre Dame, where he intends to pursue a vocation into the priesthood.


■ Anna Brodarick served as senior class president and took the lead on projects. She was always willing to pitch in even if the task was mundane and out of the spotlight. Brodarick’s sense of responsibility, warm spirit, positive attitude and enthusiasm for life were among the reasons she was chosen to become a Kairos leader for the four-day retreat with peers. She is a mature, confident, compassionate young woman who is determined to find her own success and still tend to the needs of others.

■ Frank Migliarese was a member of multiple choirs and performed in the student variety shows and spring musicals. He served as an officer of the student council’s executive board and showed his leadership in activities including blood and clothing drives and organizing dances. He has a 4.31 GPA and received recognition as an AP scholar. Both faculty and peers see him as someone who is true to his belief system and who does not compromise his values. Migliarese is someone who reaches out to anyone in need and spreads a positive spirit wherever he goes.

Cristo Rey Jesuit

■ Ivan Reyes will proudly receive his Cristo Rey diploma in June despite the challenges he faced with the premature death of both of his parents. He maintained a positive attitude and had great success in school. Reyes led the junior class on their Kairos retreat and amassed more than 134 hours beyond the required 80 hours of volunteer service to graduate. Reyes works at Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation for his internship, which pays 70 percent of the tuition at Cristo Rey. He will attend St. Mary’s University in Minnesota.

■ Maritza Contreras achieved a long list of academic honors that makes her school and family proud, but it is her outstanding character that inspires them. In addition to her corporate internship job in the IT department of Northwestern University Hospital, she maintains two outside jobs. Each month she pays $50 for her tuition and another $50 for her younger brother because her parents lost their jobs due to the economy. Both she and her brother have consistently been on the honor roll. Contreras’ dream is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. She now is deciding whether to attend Georgetown University or Marquette University.

De La Salle-Institute Campus

■ Tom Lally ranks 32nd in the 162- member class of 2009. He has a 3.86 GPA in the college prep program. In addition to his success in the classroom, he was the starting quarterback for the Meteors’ varsity football team for two seasons, throwing for 1,684 yards and 13 touchdowns, which helped lead De La Salle to the ISHA state playoffs in 2007 and 2008. He was a member of the Meteors’ baseball program and the National Honor Society.

■ Derek Needham ranks 73rd in his class. He has a 3.163 GPA in the college prep program. He started at point guard for the Meteors’ basketball team for two seasons and was this season’s captain. He was chosen winner of the Tony Lawless Award for the 2008-09 season, emblematic of the Most Valuable Player in the Chicago Catholic League. He will attend Fairfield University on a scholarship.

De La Salle-Lourdes Hall Campus

■ Irene Martinez ranks third in her 87- member class of 2009. She has a 4.67 GPA in the honors program. She was one of the top players on the girls’ soccer team and served as the Meteors’ captain. Martinez also participated in cross country, Lasallian Youth, City of De La Salle and the National Honor Society

■ Jillian Vilimas ranks first in her class. She has a 4.95 GPA in the honors program. She participated in girls’ volleyball, National Honor Society and City of De La Salle. She was the October 2008 Meteor of the Month and the 2008 Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year in girls volleyball. She will attend Marquette University.


■ Stephanie Owsiak was a member of the girls’ basketball team and the Cultural Awareness for Everyone (CAFÉ’) Club. She held a bake sale in November in the school cafeteria and raised $400 for a mission trip to Africa. Over the holiday break in December, she traveled to Ethiopia with her family, visited three orphanages and used the $400 to buy clothes for the children there. During Easter break, she went on a second mission trip to New Orleans with a group of Fenwick students. She spent 10 days working on rebuilding homes that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. She will attend Marquette University and pursue a career in sports medicine.

■ Josh Zmijewski was diagnosed in seventh grade with Hodgkins lymphoma. During the past six years, he received chemotherapy and radiation and two stem-cell transplants. The last stem-cell transplant was successful and he now is in remission for the third time. Through all of his health issues, Josh persevered. He participated on the water polo and swim teams. He has volunteered since eighth grade with Chicago PADS, an organization that provides food and shelter for the homeless. He was selected this year as a Kairos leader. He will attend the University of Tampa, majoring in business/ marketing. St. Francis de Sales

■ Annie Calderas holds a 3.92 GPA and is number five in her class of 77 students. She is able to balance her academics with co-curricular activities, which include membership in the National Honor Society; the French, Spanish, history and art clubs; peer tutoring program; student aide to the English department head; membership in the Big Sister/Big Brother program and the girls’ junior varsity basketball team; and serving as captain of the girls soccer team. She volunteers with the Chicago AIDS Walk/Run and summer book sales held at St. Francis. She is a true leader and role model to all of her peers at St. Francis.

■ Maria Pulido faced personal challenges and adapted to an unstable family environment. Pulido involved herself in many extracurricular activities but still maintained a 3.5 GPA and scored a 22 on the ACT. She played the clarinet in the school band and participated in the All-City High School Band; St. Michael’s Church Choir and Youth Orchestra. She served as the student council class vice president; tutored underclassmen; participated in varsity soccer; the French, history, music and Spanish clubs; the dance team; spirit team; and the National Honor Society. Pulido’s goal is to become an elementary school music teacher.

Gordon Tech

■ Stephen Johnson does not live in a home with parents or guardians. He lives in a group home with house-parents. His journey through secondary education at Gordon Tech taught him how to be an urban, independent learner whose primary goal is to reach his highest potential. He learned early the importance of self-motivation and the significance of actions and consequences. Realizing that the only person he could truly rely on was himself, he learned much, both inside and outside the classroom. He has overcome life obstacles and life situations that made accomplishments appear far away or impossible. It was up to him to use the resources available to him to achieve and that he did.

■ Lyanne Rivera arrived at Gordon Tech four years ago with the dreams and skills of a bright high school freshman. Things changed quickly when her mother was diagnosed with a lifethreatening illness. After her freshman year, she left the country to live with relatives. Rivera came back to the United States and to Gordon Tech last fall, her senior year. A few weeks after she arrived, a hospice notified the school that her mother was receiving support services. Although some days were better than others, Rivera was able to carry on while her mother approached death. It is her focus, determination, sensitivity, balance and faith that shines within this young woman. Her genuine nature and spiritfilled character showed everyone what it means to be committed to one’s personal best despite hardships.

St. Gregory

■ Karina Carmargo started high school at St. Gregory, but when her dad lost his job at the end of her freshman year, she withdrew to attend a local public school. The experience was too undisciplined for her. She returned to visit St. Gregory and met with Suzanne Stone, director of the Protégé Internship Program, about the possibility of work. Stone placed her in a job at McDonald’s, where she worked for the past two years and made enough money to pay her own tuition. A car accident resulting in broken bones and several weeks away from school did not daunt her one bit. With a full schedule of work, classes, plenty of stamina and a vision for her life, Karina will graduate on time and attend Kennedy-King College and study culinary arts.

■ Sam Leal came to St. Gregory as a sophomore needing a fresh start. Wrong friends, wrong places and wrong choices during freshman year wreaked havoc in Sam’s family and academic life. Looking back as a successful senior, Sam credits God, family and St. Gregory’s faculty with his amazing turnaround. He speaks warmly of his teachers and especially his grandmother, who never lost her trust in him. Sam is a leader and speaks openly about his past wrong turns. He is completing senior year as an A student and has been accepted at every college to which he applied. He is looking forward to the culinary arts program at the Illinois Institute of Art and dreams of running his own restaurant.

Guerin Prep

■ Anthony Allegretti is an honor student and class leader. He is one of two students chosen to be a graduation speaker. He is a member of the National Honor Society and class officer for the past three years, serving both his sophomore and junior years as class president and this year as secretary of the senior class. He is founder of the school’s debate club, served as an ambassador for the school all four years and participated in both the National and Global Youth Leadership conference. He caddies for the Oak Park Country Club and has been a member of the school’s golf team. He is a Chick Evans Caddy Scholarship recipient and plans to major in political science at Marquette and eventually hopes to earn a law degree. His longterm goal is a life in politics.

■ Natalie Sitkowski is valedictorian of the Class of 2009 and has a GPA of 4.64. She is an Illinois State Scholar, member of the National Honor Society and the Italian National Honor Society. She was active in student council, serving as vice president during her junior year and as president this year. She was secretary of the sophomore class, a mentor and ambassador for the school and was active in music activities, including String Ensemble. She is the recipient of the prestigious De Paul University’s Dean’s Scholarship and will study sociology there.

Hales Franciscan

■ George Ellzey served as president of the National Honor Society, treasurer of the student council, section leader of the school chorus and vice-president of the pre-med club. He volunteers in his community at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, local soup kitchens and nursing homes. He received awards from the Chicago Urban League for Academic Excellence, Chicago Urban League Youth Leadership and recognition from Who’s Who of American High School Students, and he traveled to New Zealand on a mission trip with the American Field Service. He has sustained a 4.3 GPA and received five full academic scholarships. Ellzey will attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, on a full scholarship. He will major in English and Spanish.

■ Allen Singleton entered Hales as a freshman and became part of the school’s honors program in his sophomore year. He earned at least a 3.0 GPA throughout his high school career and received a composite 18 on the ACT. In addition to good scholarship, Singleton always made time for helping in his community and extracurricular activities. He served as treasurer of the National Honor Society for two years, as president of the Hales student council and has been very active in sports — football, baseball, bowling and track. Singleton wants to attend Hampton College, where he will major in business management and pursue a career as a sports agent.

Holy Trinity

■ Malika Morris involved herself in Trinity’s choir, cheerleading, dance, newspaper and Black Student Umoja Club. She volunteers at a senior citizen center and the Chicago Food Depository. Morris endured many personal trials throughout her time at Holy Trinity, including the loss of loved ones and many home problems. Her grades dropped and she lost a scholarship, but that did not stop her from finding a way to succeed. Her mother lost her job when Morris was a junior, so she got a job in order to help pay for her own education. She began a mission to prove people wrong who said she would not make it. Morris worked hard this year and her grades are better than ever. She will attend Coastal Carolina Community College.

■ Freddy Perez involved himself in Holy Trinity’s baseball team and pet club. He was diagnosed with leukemia at age 9, suffered heart failure after enduring chemotherapy and received a heart transplant in 2003. Perez said he got closer to God during this experience. Although his health problems continued through high school, he worked hard to keep up his grades and even made the honor roll by his junior year. Children’s Memorial Hospital honored Perez by selecting him to join its Kids Advisory Board, where he has developed an interest in architecture. He has been involved with the planning of the new medical building, representing patients and sharing their ideas. Perez will attend Wright College.

St. Ignatius

■ Carolyne Luna is an outgoing, multi-talented student whose desire to succeed and ability to reflect set her apart from peers. Luna is the youngest of three children. She and her family live in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side. Luna will be a first-generation college student. She has a 3.78 GPA with three AP courses and seven honors courses. Outside of the classroom, Luna devotes herself to her areas of involvement: the Alliance of Latin American Students, Film Society, Students Committed to Social Action and academic honors societies. She participated in a school service trip to Kentucky and met people who had far less means than she but who have found their passion in life. Luna plans to attend De Paul University and wants to make a difference in her community as a teacher, community organizer or lawyer.

■ Mariah Pierce is unassuming, organized, passionate and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead in college. This optimism makes Pierce unique, as she has had a rough road. The second of five children, she and her siblings grew up in the Cabrini- Green housing development with their parents, moved to the South Side of Chicago to live with an aunt and ultimately moved with two younger siblings into foster care after the Department of Child and Family Services intervened in their upbringing. Pierce seldom talks about her life but keeps a positive attitude that has been a fine example for other students at St. Ignatius. She has a 3.35 GPA with five honors courses and one AP course. Pierce will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.

St. Joseph

■ Kelly Schreiber is a woman of purpose, yet also a woman of service, joy, intelligence and a strong leader. Schreiber is a self-directed individual who worked to ensure that she captured every moment of her high school experience while still having a clear vision to give to others. Schreiber excelled in the classroom and was involved in a myriad of activities. She is the recipient of the Lasallian Woman of Faith Award for her service and zeal that exudes a love for others.

■ Brian Thomas is a man who is selfless in his acts of service, one who is a model of respect. He has unwavering perseverance, is trustworthy and consistently dedicated and approachable. He is intelligent, hard-working, diligent and exudes a true giving spirit. He excelled academically, athletically and in leadership. He is active in his community and church and states that his first priority is to “give back.” He is the recipient of the Lasallian Man of Faith award. Thomas sees his future as being engaged in a ministry in which he can touch hearts.

Josephinum Academy

■ Andrea Carabajo has been an important member of the Josephinum community since middle school. She ranked at the top of her class, was a member of both the volleyball and soccer teams and a strong leader within her community. She actively participated in student government and in the Mikva Challenge. She makes things happen and does not wait for others to do the job. Carabajo is bright, internally motivated and a truly compassionate and kind young woman. She will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago.

■ Jacquelyn Coriano has been an active member in the Future Teachers Club since freshman year. Through this organization, she involved herself in a variety of community service opportunities ranging from working with students at a neighboring daycare center to helping feed elderly people for Thanksgiving. Coriano could be found tutoring struggling students, cleaning the library on her own time or volunteering for fundraising efforts. She will attend Dominican University and study mechanical engineering.

St. Laurence

■ Jim Love used his time at St. Laurence as a peer minister; secretary of the student council; member of the National Honor Society; a Leader/Scholar and soup kitchen volunteer. He participated in “Christ Renews His Parish” at St. Bede the Venerable and Most Holy Redeemer, Evergreen Park. He spent the last three summers as a volunteer in the Christian Outreach with Appalachian People Program. He also was vice president of the Alumni Association of the Illinois Leadership Seminar. Love will attend Marquette University.

■ Andrew Macaitis was actively involved at St. Laurence as a computer lab assistant; member of the hockey team and the National Honor Society. He is a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Silver Award, representing more than 175 hours of volunteer work this past year at Christ Hospital, Oak Lawn. He also participated in programs at the Oak Lawn Park District and his home parish of St. Louis de Montfort. Macaitis is a recipient of a Chick Evans Scholarship and will attend Marquette University.


■ Justin Camper is Leo’s class of 2009 valedictorian and class president. He says the school is a place that teaches young men pride, respect, loyalty and other positive values. “The school is not just a place for education but for learning about God. The teachers taught me more than book knowledge. When I first came to Leo, I was skeptical because of the new environment. When I signed up, I knew there was a purpose for me. Mine was to leave Leo and go to a four-year college with a scholarship. There were many distractions, disappointments and hard work but it all paid off. I will attend Purdue University-Calumet with a full scholarship.”

■ Ajani Bekley was not sure he would graduate from Leo High School. In his own words, “The future seemed to be a blur because so many things were wandering around in my present. It was hard to focus on the road that was so clearly seen by others. A year ago, I was on the verge of being expelled. ... I am so grateful for the time and support that was given me by Leo teachers who truly wanted me to succeed. I appreciate the people who egged me on because I needed that extra push. The only thing I regret is having been given so many chances to continue learning when I should have had the common sense to control my actions and stay away from unnecessary situations. I appreciate those extra chances because without them, I probably would have ended up at a school that did not care about me. Leo is a school that cares.”


■ Tina Gonzalez’s most impressive attributes include her ability to get along with everyone and her sensitivity to the needs of others. Both the Maria faculty and student body respect Gonzalez for her kind nature and her ability to get a job done well. She served as student council president, a newscaster for AV/Com, performed in plays and musicals, was rector of Kairos, put together the Senior Farewell Slide Show and all along the way, obtained good grades. She was the recent recipient of a Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award. Gonzalez will attend St. Mary’s College in Minnesota.

■ Genevieve Roland is an Illinois State Scholar, a Golden Apple Scholar of the Illinois Class of 2009, was on the honor roll for all four years and served as vice president of the National Honor Society. She was a class officer for two years, a three-year soccer player, appeared in eight school plays and assisted in nine. She received many peer ministry awards including the Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award for Prayer and Worship. Roland also worked on the school newspaper and served this year as editor-in chief and news editor. She won many awards for her work with the newspaper, Maria Herald. Roland will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and plans to teach science at the secondary school level.

Marian Catholic

■ Noeli Serna serves as president of the National Honor Society; editor of the Marian Megaphone, the school newspaper; and as an officer for her class and the International Club. She listens to her peers, fostering mutual respect, modeling with hard work and leading with integrity. She has a cumulative GPA of 4.3. Serna searches for deeper truths and understanding while her strong Christian faith leads her to generous service whether during the school day or on her own time.

■ Michael Benignetti has shown determination in the face of adversity. He is a positive, friendly presence within the school community even though he has a rare bone disease that causes him to be in and out of wheelchairs or on crutches. He handled his limitations with grace and dignity and never lost confidence in his ability to do well in school. His continual positive outlook and hard work earned him a high B average amid challenging classes. Benignetti is an inspiration to any student who struggles with physical challenges and to all who see him smiling daily in school.


■ Devlin Gray made himself a part of clubs and activities and was a common sight in the stands during games — including at several school events at which he covered his entire body in red paint. He is a four-year member of the school band and served as the group’s president his senior year, spent two years in the boxing club and helped the volleyball program as manager, served as a student council member and helped make dances and pep rallies exciting for his classmates. He also was a student ambassador, helped with Marist Youth and carried a solid load of honors classes. Gray’s academic success, involvement in school activities and commitment to caddying landed him a Chick Evans Scholarship that he will use to attend Marquette University.

■ Caitlin Plefka defined “well-rounded” during her four year at Marist. She is a four-years member of the school’s swim team and served as its captain during her final season, a three-year member of Marist’s marching band and a member of the demanding math team. She also was a student ambassador for the school and was a member of the service club, Marist Youth. Plefka carried a full load of honors and Advanced Placement courses and qualified for the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. She will attend Pomona College, Claremont, Calif.

St. Martin de Porres

■ Erik Carrasco loves putting jigsaw puzzles together. Now he has figured out how to make the pieces of his present school life fit into his future plans. Carrasco has been active in school activities since freshman year. He is a member of the cross-cultural club, student council and the National Honor Society, and he managed the school store — buying wares, counting the money and keeping records of all expenses and profits. It is likely that his job gave him the foundation for his Hire4Ed, the school’s innovative workstudy program and positions in two local Lake County banks. Academically, he achieved high honor roll status for each of his semesters at St. Martin de Porres and received more than 25 awards for leadership and other school-related roles. Carrasco has been offered nearly $250,000 in scholarship money from eight universities. He plans to attend the University of San Francisco.

■ Wendy Esparza needed a little extra prodding by her parents to enroll at St. Martin de Porres. But when her senior year arrived and her family moved to Mexico, she knew that the only place from which she wanted her high school diploma was from SMdP. She credits the school and its work-study program, Hire4ED, for helping her develop strong interpersonal skills and allowing her to leave her shyness at the proverbial door. Esparza involved herself in many activities including volleyball, track, the cross-cultural club, the Global Leadership Program and student council among others. Esparza is one of eight seniors from Cristo Rey Network Schools across the country who was chosen to become a Cristo Rey Scholar at Loyola University Chicago. By accepting, Esparza receives an annual full-tuition scholarship and room and board, estimated at $41,000 per year.

Mother McAuley

■ Rachel Page is a National Merit finalist, an AP Scholar, an officer in the International Thespian Society, a member of the National Honor Society and the Junior Classical League (Latin Honor Society). She participated all four years in the McAuley all-school musical, is a liturgical dancer and a member of the McAuley Chorus. Outside of school, Page is involved in St. Linus’ Youth Group, where she serves as a retreat leader and is a past winner of the Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award.

■ Alexandra Wazny is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Ambassadors, the McAuley A Cappella Choir, the McAuley Chorus, is a liturgical dancer and participated in several McAuley theatre productions. She is an advocate for breast cancer awareness and participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, where she raised more than $2,200. Wazny is a member of St. Christopher Parish.

Mount Assisi Academy

■ Mary Frances Broadhurst is valedictorian for the class of 2009. She maintained honor roll status since her freshman year. In addition to her commitment to academics, she participated in the school’s National Honor Society; the student council, for which she served as president; and also contributed to the volleyball and basketball teams. Broadhurst has been accepted at Northern Illinois University, Purdue University, Seton Hall University and St. John’s University in New York.

■ Elizabeth Pieta is salutatorian for the class of 2009. She was active in many school organizations and shared her talents and abilities in the math team; National Honor Society; student council and Christian Life Community. She also participated in her parish community through pro-life activities and in the teen instrumental ensemble. Pieta plans to attend Butler University in Indiana, where she will study pharmacy.

Mount Carmel

■ Nick Ritacco maintained a 4.6 GPA and immersed himself in the full range of sports and activities. He was a member of the National Honor Society; served as secretary of the Invisible Children’s Club; was a member of Browntown, the school’s jazz ensemble; and was a two-year participant in baseball and four-year athlete in soccer. He earned the lead in many Mount Carmel dramas and musicals including “Can’t Take That Away” and “Touch,” two original productions for which Ritacco received credit as a writer. He also was co-anchor of “6410 on CBN,” a student-produced Webcast on the “Caravan Broadcast Network.” He plans to study acting at New York University.

■ John (Jack) Tangel is salutatorian of Mount Carmel’s Class of 2009 and will conclude high school with a cumulative GPA of 4.91. He is a member of the National Honor Society; SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions); a three-year member of the baseball team; and participated in the Senior Leadership Seminar at the school. One of Tangel’s most significant contributions is as co-founder and current president of the Invisible Children’s Club, which raises awareness and funds to assist victims of the war in Uganda. The club raised over $7,500 for the cause. He will attend the University of Wisconsin.

Nazareth Academy

■ Sarah Patterson is mature, responsible, sensitive and organized. She served as co-president of Nazareth Academy’s service team; was an active participant in Pool Pals; Peacebuilders Outreach; Misericordia; Hinsdale Hospital Medical Staff Auxiliary Junior Board; St. Cletus Food Pantry; a school retreat leader and participated in the school’s Habitat for Humanity service trip. Patterson will attend Villanova University.

■ Mike Smigielski, valedictorian for the class of 2009, is an all-around outstanding, respected and well-liked young man. He made a four-year commitment to the golf team, school band and class boards. His commitment to service is in the sense of truly giving back. Smigielski is creative, hard-working, loyal, kind and an excellent speaker. He will attend the University of Illinois.

Notre Dame High School for Girls

■ Nancy Jaimes will represent the class of 2009 as their salutatorian with a GPA of 4.8. She is an Illinois State Scholar and vice president of the National Honor Society. She was accepted into both New York University and Northwestern University and will pursue a major in politics at whichever school she attends. “While at Notre Dame I have learned the importance of working hard and working together,” said Jaimes. “No matter what I do with my life, I will do it to the best of my ability giving at least 110 percent.”

■ Rebecca Tryba will graduate with a 4.9 GPA and represent the class of 2009 as their valedictorian. She is an Illinois State Scholar and served as secretary of the National Honor Society. Her goal is to double-major in biology and psychology at Loyola University Chicago and then pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Throughout her college career, she plans on participating in many service projects and community outreach programs. “I owe gratitude to both the Madonna Scholars Foundation and Stephan Scholars, because without their support, I would not have been able to attend Notre Dame,” said Tryba. “Four years at Notre Dame has taught me how to give back to others. I will leave with the knowledge and ambition needed to make a difference in the world.”

Notre Dame College Prep

■ Michael Angelini has a 4.69 GPA and achieved highest honors for the past seven semesters. He is a National Merit Scholar Finalist; member of the National Honor Society; an Illinois State Scholar and Hesburgh Scholar; and participated for two years in the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Academic Challenge competition and qualified for the state competition in chemistry. He served as president of the Lumberjack Club, which removes invasive flora species from local forest preserves, and is a regular volunteer for Misericordia’s Family Fest, Candy Days and annual dinner dance. Angelini also is a varsity letterman, having done four years of football, two years of track and field and one year of basketball and baseball. He is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Parish. Angelini will attend the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, where he plans to study engineering.

■ Matthew Bascom has a 4.5 GPA and achieved highest honors for the past seven semesters. He is the executive board president of the National Honor Society and member of the Hesburgh Scholars. He served on the student council for four years, held leadership positions for three years and is the current executive board treasurer. Bascom is a student ambassador; member of the Italian, pep, Big Brother and Lettermen Clubs. Active in sports, he has been on the football team and track and field team since freshman year. He has broken school records in track and placed in conference and sectional meets. He is the recipient of the school’s Faith, Scholarship and Service Award and the Illinois High School Association’s Scholastic Achievement Award. His volunteer activities include tutoring students and assisting at school sporting and special events. Last summer he helped build houses in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. He is a member of St. Cornelius Parish. Bascom will attend Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington.

Northridge Prep

■ Andrew McDonough came to Northridge two years ago and ranks at the top of his class with a GPA of 98.19. During his relatively short time at Northridge, he made his mark both in and out of the classroom. He was the director of the school’s Super Fans’ Club and participated in baseball and drama. He was recognized during the recent Vicariate II Youth Leadership Awards. McDonough will enter the University of Notre Dame.

■ Matthew O’Connor is valedictorian of his senior class with a GPA of 97.98. He was a quiet leader during his four years, showing others by his example of diligence and hard work. He is one of the best pitchers in the Independent School League and recently participated in the Illinois Math League competition. He was recognized during the Vicariate II Youth Leadership Awards earlier in the year. O’Connor will continue his education at the University of Chicago.

Our Lady of Tepeyac

■ Valentina Solano is the valedictorian of the class of 2009. She excelled in honors and AP-level courses and contributed numerous service hours to St. Agnes of Bohemia School and to the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. She is a member of the National Honor Society, art club and Student Ambassadors and was co-captain of the volleyball team. She was accepted by several colleges and will attend the University of Chicago.

■ Stephanie Villarreal is the salutatorian for the class of 2009. She is a member of the National Honor Society, student council, art club and Student Ambassadors. As a member of World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program, she traveled to Washington, D.C., and to Seattle, speaking to Congressional representatives about issues that affect teenagers. She contributed more than 200 service hours to Prieto Clinic. She’s been accepted by several colleges and will begin classes at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.

St. Patrick

■ Marcin Michniowski took classes in St. Pat’s honors program for all four years. He is the Murphy Foundation’s 100th Murphy Scholar. The Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides four-year high school scholarship and educational support services to economically disadvantaged Chicago eighth graders who demonstrate academic potential. He played in the school’s production of “Amadeus” and entertained audiences in the spring show, “West Side Story.” Michniowski will attend the University of Illinois with a Chick Evans Scholarship and plans to study politics and government.

■ Matthew Milos took classes in St. Pat’s college prep program all four years of his school career and took honors program classes in science, history and English. Through his involvement with Shamrock Council (student council), he helped raise $5,500 for the Henry Schueler 41 and 9 Foundation, a fundraising organization established in memory of St. Pat’s student Hank Schueler who passed away in 2007 from complication of leukemia. Milos will attend Indiana University with a Chick Evans Scholarship and plans to study business/marketing.

Queen of Peace

■ Julie Dorken is co-valedictorian and earned the 2009 Principal’s Leadership Award. She took the leadership role in many school activities and was active as a Dominican Preacher, retreat minister and Peace Ambassador. She excelled in all her academic work including seven Advanced Placement courses. She was the recipient of the Vicariate V Youth Leadership Award for Prayer and Worship. Dorken will attend the University of Chicago with a fulltuition scholarship.

■ Tania Stanford recently was honored with the 2009 Woman of Peace Award for exemplifying what it means to be a Peace woman — a student who is faith-driven and models her faith through her persistence in adversity, is willing to serve and is kind to everyone she encounters. Stanford is a peer mediator, member of the Spanish National Honor Society and the National Honor Society and is a retreat leader. She will attend Eastern Illinois University.

Regina Dominican

■ Kristen Kelly was an active member of the Class Council Executive Board during her four years at Regina; was a member of the editorial board for the Crown, the school newspaper; and a four-year member of the school’s tennis team. She also serves as a junior board member at the Midwest Children’s Brain Tumor Center at Luttheran General Hospital and is a member of the Youth Leadership in Connective Philanthropy organization. She will attend the University of Notre Dame and plans to major in political science.

■ Kathryn (Katie) Trela is a National Merit finalist and an Illinois State Scholar. She was a member of Mathletes, a club designed to promote interest in mathematics; the Latin Club; WYSE, Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Club that encourages young women to continue their education in science; and a four-year member of the volleyball team. She volunteers with Bookworm Angels, which helps distribute children’s books to Chicago Public Schools. Trela will attend the University of Chicago and major in biochemistry.


■ Meghan Kasprzyk achieved First Honors throughout her high school career while taking college prep courses. She is an Illinois State Scholar; for two years received the gold prize in the Regional Science Fair; was the recipient of the Harvard Prize Book Award for Resurrection High School in 2007; and a National Merit Commended Student. She served as vice president of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD); the National Honor Society; was a member of the Spanish Club; a Student Ambassador; Spanish peer tutor; freshman mentor; a Kairos Leader; a yearly participant in the Crop Walk; opinion editor for the student news publication, Res Banner; and a four-year member of the tennis team. She will attend Northwestern University.

■ Natalie Romano took rigorous college prep classes and consistently achieved First Honors. She is an Illinois State Scholar; member of the National Honor Society; was a participant in the 2009 Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) Regional Competition; member of the Bandit Council Student Athlete Board; the Ophelia (Bullying Prevention) board; campus ministry; a Student Ambassador; a Kairos leader; four-year member of the volleyball and softball teams; and participant in Crop Walk. She also served as Italian club president and National Honor Society treasurer and was a tutor for both organizations. She will attend Illinois Wesleyan University.

St. Rita of Cascia

■ Daniel K. Moore is the valedictorian for the class of 2009. He is one of 26 students in the State of Illinois to be named to the IHSA All-State Academic Team. He is a four-year member of the swim team; Scholastic Bowl team; Ritan newspaper; Cascian yearbook; and Theater Group. He holds a 5.09 GPA, having been named to the Gold Honor Roll all eight of his semesters at St. Rita, with straight As in seven of them. He is a member of the National Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar. Moore will attend the University of Chicago on a full academic scholarship.

■ Benjamin G. Richardson is the salutatorian of the class of 2009. He is a legacy student, following his father, Fred Richardson, who was one of St. Rita’s first African-American graduates. He was involved with the Knights of Augustine, a service fraternity, and organizes volunteer trips to the Southwest Chicago PADS center. He holds a 4.88 GPA and was named to the Gold Honor Roll all eight of his semesters at St. Rita with straight As in seven of them. He is a member of the National Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar. Richardson will attend the University of Chicago on an academic scholarship.

St. Scholastica Academy

■ Tempris Daniels involved herself in many activities including the ecology club, ambassadors; GAA; Big/Little Sister; event planning; chorus; student council and campus ministry. She was an extraordinary minister of Communion and part of the Benedictine Formation Team. She helped with the fall and spring fundraisers; open houses; the Halloween event; and was a three-sport athlete playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She received many awards in volleyball and baskebtball, which she played at the varsity level for four years. She was on the All- Conference Team her junior and senior years, was captain for two years and won an award for 500-plus rebounds. Her spring sport is softball and she received the coach’s leadership awards and was captain twice. Academically, Daniels received awards for excellent achievement in math, science, English, photography and received writing awards from the English department. When not at school, she helps at her parish, St. Gregory the Great, with bingo, at the parish center and as an altar server and extraordinary minister of Communion. She received an Archdiocesan Youth Award for her service to the church. She will attend Augustana College with more than $19,000 in scholarships and hopes to major in physical therapy.

■ Lauren Fifarek was a member of the student council, serving as president of her classes all four years; a member of the Ambassadors Club; the Benedictine Formation Team; campus ministry seminar; president of the National Honor Society; member of the ecology club; a right-fielder for the softball team; dancer for the dance troupe; served in the Peacebuilders Initiative organization; was a volunteer at Misericordia; and helped the elderly at St. Francis Extended Care Center. She will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Seton Academy

■ Carmelita Duncan’s life has been anything but easy. During 8th grade her mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. When she entered high school, her mother’s health improved. However, the summer before her sophomore year, Duncan’s father passed away from complications with pneumonia. Yet she received a semester GPA of 4.0. During senior year, her mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Despite all of these obstacles, Duncan maintained good grades and found time to participate in the National Honor Society, the youth and government clubs and was a peer minister. She uses her education to guide her through personal experiences and plans a career in the medical field.

■ Elexys Isidore involved herself in just about every aspect of Seton Academy: drama club; four-year member of the girls’ basketball and volleyball teams; peer minister; guidance tutor and Seton Ambassador. She held high-level leadership positions during her junior and senior years as class president and student government treasurer. She still found time to maintain quality grades and is graduating with AP credit. But it was not easy. When she was not thriving in the halls of Seton, Isidore endured a long battle with her image, family conflict and abuse. Isidore has proven to be a strong and determined young adult with an excellent work ethic and who lives by her faith. Isidore aspires to be a school psychologist.


■ Marisa Trzebny is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate who is a member of the National Honor Society, National Italian Honor Society, Youth Ending Hunger and the co-director of the Church Youth Board. She is a competitive member of the Trinity High School golf team and caddies at the Oak Park Country Club. Trzebny won the prestigious Chick Evans scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an international business major.

■ Arielle Arzu’s passions are academics, track and cross country. She is a community service activist who developed and implemented a character development, healthy lifestyles and “Habits in My Daily Routine” program for local Girl Scouts. She is one of 310 students nationwide who is an AXA Achievers Scholar who has demonstrated the determination to set and reach goals. Arzu received a scholarship for service and the advocacy of women from the Zonta Club of Oak Park. She will attend Butler University majoring in chemical or biomedical engineering.

St. Viator

■ Mario Cuttone is valedictorian for the class of 2009. He will graduate with Highest Honors. He is a member of the National Honor Society; the French National Honor Society; is an Illinois State Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar and a finalist for the Chicago Tribune All-State Academic team; received the President’s Educational Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence for achieving a grade point average of 100 percent or better for seven semesters of high school and also departmental awards for computer, AP, French, social studies, English and religion. He received the distinction of being chosen an East Suburban Catholic Conference Scholar-Athlete and was a member of the school’s state championship golf team. Cuttone also is active in his parish and various volunteer projects. He still studies finance at Loyola University Chicago with his sights set on going to law school.

■ Katie Dziedzic served as president of her senior class; was a member of the Student Ministry team and retreat team; a peer minister; and was a member of the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and French Honor Society. She received the Principal Leadership Award, the Lion Spirit Award and honorable mention in the Daily Herald Leadership team. Each year, Dziedzic worked on service projects that carried her far beyond the 25 required hours through the school’s Christian Service Experience. She will attend the University of Miami, Fla., and study marine science. As she prepares for this new chapter, she will travel to Australia for two weeks as the recipient of the Steve Irwin Fellowship. She will work closely with the staff at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo in Queensland and Australia’s historical Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The establishment of this prestigious educational award is a collaborative initiative between the Australian Consulate- General in Chicago, Shedd Aquariaum and Chicago-based Australian businesses to honor the legacy of the late Steve Irwin.

Willows Academy

■ Kathleen (Katie) Romano is the first recipient of the Clara Schumann Award, which recognizes her passion for music and spirit of service to the school. Romano uses her talent in vocal music and warmth of character to make her school’s members welcome, particularly those of her stature, which is 4 feet, 10 inches. Romano is founder of the “Under 5 Foot Club” at Willows, which serves to help young students feel warm and welcome. Her strong eye for detail and for providing those little finishing touches helps preserve strong and happy memories for the Willows family. She will attend Southern Methodist University and study music therapy.

■ Audrey Salerno is responsible for bringing music technology into the 21st century at the Willows. She is a strong student and Illinois State Scholar who uses her talent in technology to do everything from recording and mastering the CDs of student ensembles to lighting the stage for theatrical products to fixing the head of the school’s computer every time it runs amok. Despite her physical challenges, Salerno has learned to balance extracurricular activities with rigorous academics, maintaining grades that are consistently above average. She will attend the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater and pursue a degree in electronic media. She also will play basketball on the Whitewater wheelchair basketball team.

Woodlands Academy

■ Kiara Born credits her decision to major in elementary and special education with a concentration in conflict resolution to her ongoing service relationship with St. Malachy on Chicago’s West Side. The relationship began in Born’s freshman year when the students in St. Malachy’s gospel choir came to Woodlands for the annual gospel liturgy. After lunch, the groups gather for lunch and a carnival of games and activities. During her sophomore year, Born was one of the social justice students who went to St. Malachy and worked with the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade girls there. She returned in summer and helped in the pre-school summer enrichment class. This continued the following summer. At the beginning of her senior year, she presented a proposal to the Woodlands Service committee to conduct a fundraiser for St. Malachy. That resulted in “Mornings for Malachy’s,” a café that served hot beverages and muffins during Lent. Born was accepted in the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University.

■ Julie Castellini was instrumental in helping raise awareness of the atrocities occurring in Darfur. She served as chair of the school’s Student Service Club and under her leadership implemented monthly visits to Women’s Residential, an agency that serves women who are recovering from substance abuse; to The Wealshire, a home for patients with Alzheimer’s; and to Misericordia. One of her dreams was to plan and participate in a weeklong service trip. After much research, she presented a proposal for a spring break trip to New Orleans to work on homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. She and nine students and four adults from Woodlands Academy, working with Catholic Charities, painted the exterior of two homes and the windows and iron fence of a third home. Her legacy will be an on-going yearly service trip over spring break. Although accepted into college, she is exploring the idea of pursing a year of service before continuing her formal education.

Editor’s note: All Catholic high schools in the archdiocese were invited to participate; Loyola Academy chose not to submit information.