The quality of our community’s future depends largely on the quality of its youth. We asked Orange County high schools and middle schools, public and private, to identify students at their schools who are doing extraordinary things both academically and in the community, for this expanded edition of our monthly Standout Students segment. We are honored to celebrate the merits of these young people and will watch their next steps with great interest… and if we are all a little lucky their future paths will eventually lead them back to their home towns where we will all benefit from their talent, their curiosity and their character.
“Game Over” – that’s the nickname counselor Steve Harrington at El Modena High School of Orange has given senior Matthew Rock. “I call him that because in any debate or academic challenge, when Matt steps up, the game is over.”
Those are big words, but Matt’s record makes them believable. Matt (see above with his sister Ashley, also an El Modena student) has earned a 4.8 GPA as he has taken the most demanding honors and advanced placement courses that El Modena has to offer, while earning the designation of scholar-athlete for four straight years for his participation at the varsity level in El Modena’s Aquatics program. He is an award-winning captain of the Speech and Debate team, a two-year member of the National Honor Society, co-chairman of the Science Olympiad team and a valued part of El Modena’s first-year Robotics Club, which won the Rookie Inspiration award at a regional competition held last summer. Through school and through the local public library Matt tutors other students, and he runs a charitable t-shirt business that offers 50% of its profits to Catarina’s Club, which feeds motel children.
So what is Matt’s secret to success?
“In my opinion, the key to success is defining what success specifically means for you,” says Matt. “In school, in life, or in anything. Success should be something that makes you happy and makes you feel fulfilled, not something that external elements tell you is success. Therefore, there is no definitive key. It will be a constant process for me throughout my life to continuously seek out what success truly means.”
Matt Rock is headed to a top university, where he plans to study patent law.
“My best year ever.” That’s how Troy Kassien responds when asked how his senior year at Servite High School is going.
Troy is the current Chief Executive Officer for Trinity Corporation, Servite’s model student-led Corporation. Troy began his association with Trinity Corp as a freshman student intern in 2010. After working his way through all entry level positions – retail sales, food services, operations, inventory control, human resources – he joined the executive team in 2011. Troy attributes his accomplishments to a personal commitment to time management and task orientation.
Over his time at Servite Troy has not only developed his creative curiosity and analytical skills but he has found a passion for leadership and an understanding of the techniques needed for effective and bold leadership style. Participation in the mission and purpose of Trinity Corporation presented Troy with the opportunity to refine his sense of service in support of the Servite brothers who receive in excess of $150,000 in financial aid from the revenues created by Trinity Corp activities.
Troy has also managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA, continue his parish ministry activities (leadership work with Servite Campus Ministry) and to complete his college acceptance process early. He will pursue a degree in philosophy and business.
According to John Casato, principle at St. Anne Middle School in Laguna Niguel, eighth grader Ashton Carroll is a great combination of hard-work, intelligence and a fun-loving attitude. “Ashton is insightful beyond her years, has a ton of friends and performs at the highest level academically,” he says. “She is truly a well-rounded individual who represents the best of her generation!”
Ashton is a natural leader and unifier. She serves as President of the St. Anne Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society; she is editor of the school’s yearbook, a teacher-elected member of Where Everyone Belongs (a student mentoring program) and a member of St. Anne’s Future Problem Solvers team – all while excelling in academics for a GPA of 4.8. She even took second place in St. Anne’s recent Geography Bee.
Ashton stays active in club level soccer, and is on her school’s soccer, volleyball and basketball teams. She is a member of the St. Anne surfing club and enjoys water and snow skiing. She recently completed a “mountains to sea” hiking and camping trip through western North Carolina and the coast of South Carolina.
Ashton (seen here sorting donations) provides community service through a number of organizations. Her primary focus is Sports Gift, based in Laguna Hills, which refurbishes used athletic equipment and then provides it to under-served children throughout the U.S. and abroad. She recently personally delivered a complete set of soccer uniforms and equipment to a church youth program in an impoverished area of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ashton does not yet have any concrete plans for college or career, but is considering the study of law.
Isabel Bellino came to OCSA in 2011, to study in the Classical Voice Conservatory under the direction of Dr. Maria Lazarova. She is a member of the OCSA Chamber Singers, the Bel Canto singers and an active participant in OCSA’s Opera Scenes class. Isabel performed in the chorus of Dido and Aeneas, as the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel (seen above) and was featured several times as a soloist in OCSA’s Classical Voice Conservatory’s Choral Concerts. In 2012, she sang in England as part of the “Two Countries, One Voice” concert series featuring student vocalists from Tiffin Boys’ Choir, Azusa Pacific University, and OCSA.
This straight-A student is the Historian for OCSA’s Future Business Leaders of America, and is an active member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation. She is Founder and President of “Spare Change for Change” – a fundraising and public awareness initiative supporting Orangewood Children’s Foundation. She was named Honoree of the National Philanthropy Day 2013 for her success in launching “Spare Change for Change” club chapters at other OC high schools.
This year, Isabel was chosen as semifinalist for Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight program, and also advanced to the Classical Singer magazine’s semifinals competition. Her goal is to major in business, marketing and communications and minor in classical vocal performance. As a budding philanthropist, Isabel hopes to spread “Spare Change for Change” chapters across college campuses nationwide to benefit America’s rising population of homeless and abused children.
When Rosary High School senior Angelina Lo was six years old, her cousin was admitted to Stanford Hospital. Angelina went to visit and learned a lot about the medical school there. It sparked her interest in medicine and when she got to Rosary, she excelled in their Athletic Medicine Program (RAMP), which was developed to help introduce students to a possible career in sports medicine. Angelina is currently the president of the National Honor Society of Sports Medicine at Rosary, but is also a leader in the rest of her life.
Angelina is currently working on her Gold Award with the Girl Scouts. She volunteers at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland each Sunday. For her Gold Award, Angelina established a hospitality cart that brings items to patients in hopes of cheering them up. She is also editor for Key Club Division 30 South, which is comprised of 14 schools, and she is the secretary for Rosary’s Key Club.
As an Admission Ambassador at Rosary, Angelina talks with prospective students and families about the Rosary experience. She is also a member of Campus Ministry, helping to plan prayer services and tend to the spiritual needs of the school.
Through RAMP, Angelina recently placed 4th in the American Academic Competition Institute Sports Medicine Competition. She qualified at a regional tournament then advanced to the national competition, where she had to complete a written exam and a physical assessment of a patient.
This fall, Angelina will be attending – you guessed it – Stanford, where she will major in Human Biology.
Emily Wang claims to enjoy reading and playing the piano in her free time, but Troy High School principle Amy Avina cannot imagine what type of free time this junior has. Principle Avina first met Emily when she came to her office wearing a heavy backpack and carrying a few textbooks along with her tennis racket, wanting to advocate for students in Troy’s Speech and Debate club. “The club needed an advisor, and our teachers were already stretched thin,” says Principle Avina, “But Emily was determined to find a solution.”
Since then Emily has been collaborating with her school in leadership not only on this issue, but on other fronts. She is a member of the Principal’s Advisory Board, a select group of students who meet with the principle regularly to discuss issues and concerns from the student perspective, and Emily was recently elected to the Vice President position on Troy’s school site council.
In the classroom, Emily is a standout. She is enrolled in the Troy Tech Magnet Program and is a full International Baccalaureate student. Her course load is the most challenging that Troy has to offer, and she maintains it all while pursuing varsity tennis where she was named the MVP of the Girls Tennis program in the Freeway League. Outside of school Emily is heavily involved in the American Cancer Society and also volunteers her time to work with middle school students through the Orange County Debate League.
“Emily is a modest young woman, but she is also very poised,” says Principle Avina. “She is keeping her college options open, but I am confident that a great university will snap her up next spring.”
McCall Andrizzi is a real PAL around campus. Quite literally, the Corona del Mar High School sophomore is a member of the Peer Assisitance Leadership (PAL) club, which helps promote a positive, healthy, and accepting social environment on campus. McCall’s major role on PAL this year has been organizing Suicide Prevention Week, going as far as convincing our faculty to change the school’s schedule for a day, allowing all students to attend an assembly addressing this serious issue.
For McCall, PAL is not just a club, it is a way of life that drives how she treats people. As a talented member of the school’s Song/Pep Squad, McCall has even used her passion for dance and music to support and encourage other students and teams. She also participates in Millennial Youth Choir of Orange County.
McCall’s future plans reflect her convictions of faith and caring for others. She hopes to attend BYU, work with students in Kenya, and eventually pursue a career in the mental health field. While McCall is a great student and talented dancer, it is her heart that makes her stand out as an exemplary person. M