Star Scholar Night

May 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Amid the pressure of Advanced Placement Exams, Math Club Honors Ceremonies, and preparation for finals, Cathedral has made a point for over twenty years to honor members of the student body for their achievement and effort.

Before Easter, each teacher was asked to select two students from each class, one to be honored for academic excellence and one for dedication. Since early April, Registrar Aurora Soliz has been checking the spelling of 164 names and preparing 302 certificates for presentation to the selected freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.

The excellence award is pretty straightforward, going to the student maintaining the highest grade for the length of the class, whether semester or year-long. Many teachers wish they could select more than one “excellent” student especially when several have similarly high grades. Of course, teachers are free to give the dedication award to the student with the second-highest grade in the class, and often they do. But this honor is designed particularly to reward sustained and enthusiastic commitment, especially for those whose best efforts do not quite reach the academic heights of the “A” Honor Roll.

On Thursday, May 4, faculty, administration, parents and family members gathered to celebrate the achievement of Cathedral students in Computer Science, English, Mathematics, Religious Studies, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, andVisual & Performing Arts. The program, as usual, listed the names of all the honorees, but the particular class or award is deliberately omitted to add to the suspense. Seniors are not included in this event because their recognition comes at the Senior Presentation Assembly before graduation.

Following the opening prayer by Br. Chris Patiño, Master of Ceremonies Gary Bertolone introduced Principal Br. John Montgomery. In his opening remarks, Br. John noted statistics for college-bound seniors from Cathedral. As the saying goes, there was good news and bad news. The good news for the Class of 2012 is that, of 152 seniors, a record 26% have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher for their entire high school career. Of these forty students, eleven have maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 or higher.

He also pointed out that in the Los Angeles Unified School District, only 15% of graduating seniors are eligible to enroll in a four-year college. At Cathedral, he proudly announced, fully 74% of our seniors have been accepted by a four-year college or university.

Going into a little more detail, our seniors have received 228 acceptance letters, and 15% of them (35 by count) came from the nine campuses of the University of California (2 each from Berkeley and Davis; 4 each from UCLA, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, and Riverside; 5 from Irvine; and 6 from Merced). The majority of acceptances, 64%, came from eighteen of the twenty-three Cal State campuses: 42 from Cal State LA; 29 from Northridge; 11 from Cal Poly Pomona; 9 from San Francisco; 7 from Fullerton; 6 each from Long Beach and San Jose; 5 from Monterey Bay; and 4 from San Diego, for a total of 146.

Private colleges and universities account for 20% of the acceptances. These include such California schools as St. Mary’s of Moraga, University of the Pacific, and Pepperdine, plus the following out-of-state institutions: St. John’s (New York); Seton Hall (New Jersey); Notre Dame (Indiana); LaSalle University and Swarthmore (both in Philadelphia); Willamette (Oregon); and Johns Hopkins (Baltimore).

Approximately 25% of our graduates are expected to enroll in a local community college, such as Glendale, ELAC, or Pasadena City College.

Now for the bad news. College acceptances are becoming more difficult at California’s public universities. Because of the increased tuition ($23,000) paid by out-of-state and international students, the UC system is accepting fewer California residents. Similarly, in three years – and this affects this year’s freshmen – the Cal State system will be accepting 1,500 fewer students per campus. As it stands today, Cal State students frequently take six years to graduate, but no financial aid will be awarded for a seventh year.

All of this means that college acceptance will no longer be automatic just for taking (and passing) the college preparatory courses that Cathedral offers. Acceptance to a UC school is down 10% since 2010, while CSU acceptances are up 10%. Private school acceptances over the last three years are up 6%, and community college acceptances (not particularly rigorous) are up 1%.

Following these somewhat sobering remarks, the Master of Ceremonies returned to the focus of the occasion, presentation of the certificates.

Beginning with the Computer Science Department, faculty members lined up in front of the decorative balloon arch, and then Mr. Bertolone read the names of the students selected for academic excellence. Department Chair Anthony Trafecanty presented certificates, while the department members offered their congratulations in a receiving line. Following the applause for the honorees, Mr. Bertolone read the names of the students selected for dedication and effort, and they received their certificates and congratulations as well.

The next group was the English Department, with AP English Language and English I Honors teacher Terry Catlin standing in for Department Chair Kristin McNeal (on maternity leave).

They were followed by the Spanish Department andChair Martha Lira; the Math Department led by Chair Abel Gutierrez; Religious Studies withChair Br. Lawrence Haley; Science underChair David Galaz; Social Studies andChair Robert Ryan, and concluding with the Visual & Performing Arts andChair Jamie Murphy.

After each department’s honorees have been recognized, the audience responds with applause. At least one freshman, Kendrick Antenor-Cruz, was honored for excellence in six of seven categories! While the teachers take delight in watching the freshmen make their first trip to the front, they also share a special joy when sophomores and juniors participate for the first time.

At the end of the ceremony, the students led an a capella rendition of the Alma Mater.

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