Mariner News Articles


Mariners Exploring Europe!

Mr. Nelson and five Mariners toured Europe as part of a St. Monica international excursion. Mr. Nelson's prepared a blog as the group traveled to Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria!

To Mr. Nelson's blog, click here

Immense Talent and A Powerful Message in Les Misérables!

SMCHS saw record crowds in its weekend performances of Les Misérables, School Edition.  SMCHS students prepared for months and their dedication paid off.  This was truly a stunning performance with the caliber of work seen in professional productions.  Students, teachers, and audience members said that this was one of THE BEST performances to ever come to St. Monica!  Though the show has ended, we congratulate the cast and crew for a job well done.  Bravo! Check out this article in the Santa Monica Mirror! 








The Lady Mariners basketball stormed back from an early deficit to defeat St. Paul 46-45 in the CIF-SS division 4 Championship game.  With the victory, the Lady Mariners capture their first CIF title for the girls basketball program at St. Monica.  Congratulations to the entire coaching staff and the Lady Mariners for a tremendous effort.  We are proud of you ladies!

News articles about the victory:

Santa Monica Mirror

Santa Monica Daily Press

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Los Angeles Sports Journal


Class of 2012 toTransform the World!

The graduating class of 2012 has left St. Monica to pursue their college academic endeavors but they will certainly be missed!  The theme for this class, "One of the '12" is especially fitting since it connects our graduates to the 12 Apostles. As Jesus' followers were challenged to go out and transform the world, SMCHS has equally high hopes and expectations of our graduates.  The class of 2012 is sure to make its mark in college and beyond.  Because of extraordinary leadership and accomplishment, four special awards were issued to five very special Mariners.  “Mariner of the Year” went to Justin Kennedy; “Heart of Ministry” went to Anahid Girbal and Andrea Engler; the “Principal’s Award” went to Mary Ramzy; and the “President’s Award” went to Elizabeth Christian.  We are so very proud of all of our graduating Mariners!  “To the Green and Gold, All Hail!”


SMCHS Academic Decathlon Team Wins Division Championship ... AGAIN!

On Saturday, February 4, the SMCHS Academic Decathlon Team took home its third division championship in the last three years!  The SMCHS AcaDeca team resurfaced in 2009 after several years of inactivity. Coach Jeremy Nelson began the process of encouraging students to join the 2009-2010 AcaDeca team despite their obvious disadvantage due to inexperience.  Students trained hard in the early morning hours, before school, to prepare for the competition.  The Mariners began in 2010, in the lowest division, but quickly worked up the ranks.  Last year, after their second division championship, the Mariners advanced another level and this year competed in Division 2 with several well-established AcaDeca teams!  Not only did the SMCHS team take home a First-Place division win, but they also won Third-Place overall (even beating Division 1 teams)! We are so proud of our Mariner AcaDeca Team: John W., Audrey M, Hsaing L., Theresa S., Ryan K., Dean M., Kevin D., Adrian S., and Christian Q., whose accomplishments include 64 individual medals and, of course, the Division 2 Championship!

Inaugural Dancing with Our Stars a Huge Success!

The Dancing with Our Stars competition on February 3rd was an enormous success!  Fr. Tim Klosterman and his dancing partner took home the first-place trophy in a sweeping victory over our other talented pairs.  Their performance of the waltz was too hard to beat!  SMCHS principal, Alex Chacon, and teachers Bridget Dixon and Siobhan O'Neill did an exceptional job and certainly gave Fr. Tim some fierce competition.  Thanks to parishioner Cheryl Birch, USA Dance Los Angeles Chapter, and countless administration, faculty and parents for their support.  Plans are already underway for next year's reprise!

Words of Wisdom and Encouragement at Honors Assembly

Students gathered on Monday for the honors assembly, celebrating the academic and citizenship accomplishments of 1st semester.  Parishioner and friend of SMCHS, Suzanne Nora Johnson, served as the keynote speaker and inspired Mariners with her passionate presentation.  Ms. Nora Johnson impressed upon students their responsibility to others in their community and in the world.  She encouraged them to take advantage of the chances and opportunities given to them in life by using these opportunities to make an impact. She shared inspiring stories from the life and works of people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Meg Whitman, and Nelson Mandela.  After she spoke, Suzanne was given a cross made out of the original gymnasium floor in recognition of her support of the SMCHS community.   She was especially moved because nearly two decades ago, she brought her parents to Mass in the St. Monica gymnasium. This year, Ms. Nora Johnson sponsored a logo-design art project and 5 winners were awarded tuition scholarships!  We are proud of the academic and citizenship successes of our students and are grateful to Suzanne Nora Johnson for her inspiring words and her unwavering support of our Mariner family!

Dancing With Our Stars Announces Top-Notch Lineup

St. Monica Schools will be hosting the first ever "Dancing With Our Stars" competition!  On February 3, the stars will align as SMCHS's own Mr. Chacon, Ms. Dixon and Ms. O'Neill join forces with Fr. Tim, and SMCES's Dr. Quinly, Ms. Sessarego, and Mr. Clark to dance the night away for our schools' instrumental music programs!  The St. Monica stars have been paired up with experienced ballroom dancers (provided by USA Dance - and will compete in front of a live audience.  The event MC, Mr. Gasper, will take the audience through the voting process to determine which dance duo will claim victory!  Tickets are $5 for students and id=mce_marker0 for adults (and include two votes).  Please email Cheryl Birch at or call (310) 394-3701 x1303 for more information!

Ballroom Bootcamp for DWOS Contestants

The Dancing With Our Stars contestants gathered for a ballroom bootcamp in preparation for the competition on February 3.  Toes were pointed, positions were reviewed, and dancers determined which style of dance they will perform.  The audience on February 3 will be able to see whether Mr. Chacon chose Tango or Swing Dance; whether Ms. Dixon chose Rumba or Fox Trot; whether Ms. O'Neill chose Cha Cha or Waltz!



Students Head to Yellowstone for Out-of-the-classrom Learning!

 Six SMCHS students (grades 9-12), accompanied by Biology teachers, Mr. Wengeler and Ms. Santana, experienced a winter wonderland in Yellowstone National Park!  The students and teachers spent six days learning about Rocky Mountain ecology, wildlife biology and winter survival.  Though most of the roads in the park are closed due to heavy snowfall, students were fortunate enough to explore the park in a snowcoach, which allowed access to areas of the park most people don’t have the opportunity to view in winter!


Gymnasium renovation wrapping up!

Crews have been working since August to renovate our gymnasium which hasn't seen any major changes in over 60 years! Check out our third webisode installment which focuses on the Mariner Time Capsule.

If you would like to see the previous gym webisodes, please click here


Homecoming Week at SMCHS!

Homecoming week has hit the ground running with spirited students, teachers, parents and alumni! 

Celebrate and Rejoice, We are Home

As we do before class, practice, games, performances, pep rallies, and even meetings, SMCHS began our Homecoming Week in prayer.  The Homecoming Mass, held on Tuesday, kicked off a week of festivities.  Students, faculty, parents and alumni gathered to pray, sing and celebrate the Eucharist.  We were called to celebrate and rejoice in the home that brings us all together.

Upcoming Homecoming Activities:

Wednesday, October 12 - "Baby Ruth" alternative dress day

Students can dress in sports jerseys (please see announcements and parent/student handbook for dress code specifications)

Thursday, October 13 - "Skittles" alternative dress day

Students can wear solid color tops (in Skittles colors) and gather at lunch for a human rainbow (please see announcements and parent/student handbook for dress code specifications)

Friday, October 14 - "Mariner Pride" alternative dress day, Homecoming Pep Rally and Community Sock Hop

Students can wear mariner colors (green and gold) to school (please see announcements and parent/student handbook for dress code specifications)

The pep rally will be held on the turf at 1:45pm

The Community Sock Hop will be held in the auditorium at 7:30pm.  All are welcome!  Tickets may be purchased at the door for $15. Click here for an event flier

Saturday, October 15 - Homecoming Game and Alumni Celebration for Retired Teacher, Mr. Dom Castillo

The game is at 7:00 p.m. on the St. Bernard High School field vs. St. Anthony

SMCHS Alums at Talent TuesdayHomecoming King and Queen will be announced

There will be an alumni mixer immediately following the game at the Playa Del Rey Elks Lodge to honor Mr. Dom Castillo, who taught at SMCHS for over 30 years

Sunday, October 16 - Alumni Decades Class Picnic and Homecoming Dance

Alumni from the 40s, 50s and 60s will gather for a class picnic at 2:00 p.m. on the turf.

The theme for this year's Homecoming Dance is "Candy Land"

We are blessed to call SMCHS home and will continue to be a community worthy of our great patroness, Monica.  GO MARINERS!


John Angotti Live and Streaming at St. Monica!

Notable, prolific liturgical composer, John Angotti, will inspire the Mariner community once again with his heartfelt, prayerful lyrics and soulful voice in a live streaming concert.  The event, held on October 5 in the St. Monica Church, is closed to the public but can be streamed live by clicking here


Mariner Memory Wall

Last week, hundreds of Mariner students, teachers, alumni and even church staff gathered to leave their mark, literally, on a piece of SMCHS history!  The gymnasium, whose top level is currently under construction, was the site of this mini Mariner time-capsule.  Students and friends of SMCHS were encouraged to write a memory or positive experience in the gymnasium or in their time at SMCHS in permanent marker.  Then, many dipped their hands in paint and left a green handprint next to their quote.  Even Msgr. Torgerson, schools president Mr. Gasper and SMCHS principal Mr. Chacon got their hands green for the occasion!  The Mariner Memory Wall is on the east wall of the gymnasium and will be covered by a new wall as part of the construction plan.  The wall with student sayings and handprints will forever be a part of our gymnasium, which is already a source of nostalgia and pride for our community.  

Junior, Riley said, “this school is filled with great people, great education and greater memories. “  Another junior, Elvia, said, “Thanks to those who made me who I am.  I love this school!”  Pastoral Associate, Delis Alejandro said, “I have great memories of Christmas and Easter in this gym.”  Mr. Chacon reflected on the six three-pointers he made during the teacher/SMPD basketball game and Mr. Gasper reflected on the time he was made a human sundae during a pep rally.  The Mariner Memory Wall will live on behind the new wall material where it may be unearthed again some day.  It was a day all were proud to be Mariners!

Mariners and Seahawks Gather for St. Monica Feast Day Celebration

SMCHS students continued the celebration of our patroness, Monica, as they extended her feast day through the week. On Monday, SMCHS and SMCES students gathered on the turf for a brief prayer service in honor of Monica. The service was made especially beautiful by the voices of the combined choir, Msgr. Torgerson and Mr. Gasper’s messages and the participation of both student bodies. This was a wonderful way for our elementary school to start its first day of classes. The Kindergarten class was front and center, singing and praying with the gathered students. At the end of the service, SMCHS students took a short pilgrimage to St. Monica’s Grotto on the Lincoln side of the school. Students brought small reflection stones with them...more


Mariner Singers Have a Fun-Filled Summer!

SMCHS singers had a busy summer in preparation for this school year's performances, Masses and concerts.    Our talented student singers prepared for the school year by sharpening up their musical skills, joining in fellowship and camaraderie with each other, and honing their vocal skills.  A great tradition that has arisen over the last decade is the St. Monica Choral Retreat/Workshop which is held in Mammoth.

In addition to the Mammoth retreat, some of our student singers also headed to Music Ministry Alive! (MMA) which is a youth liturgical music program run by premier liturgical composer, David Haas.  Holly Avecilla (student singer and ASB Commisioner of Performing Arts) attended MMA over the summer; here are some of her reflections on the conference:

-At our concert, SING!, the event we spend a lot of time practicing for, it thundered and lightninged. It felt like God was with us celebrating our success. Everyone danced in the rain singing at the top of their lungs.

-We had peer group sessions that really helped me personally learn how to deal with my issues at home and see that God forgives me and loves me. Also it was a great opportunity to become close to complete strangers. It was fantastic. I write to my peer group members and my peer group leader.

-We had prayer service every morning and took off our shoes during these sessions. We would sing songs in perfect harmony and even dance. There were a couple of Hawaiian dancers who actually taught a group of youth members how to dance. One night we even washed each other's feet and ate a simple dinner of water and bread. It made me realize how much we consume everyday and how we waste so much. The meal made me more aware of the way I use my resources. On another night we had Taize Prayer. It was mainly silence but that night so many emotions ran through everyone in that room. We realized how far we've come in so little time and how much we genuinely love each other. 


St. Monica Football in the News

Coach Guerra speaks about the upcoming season for the Mariners in this article and video in the Santa Monica Mirror (click here)


Congratulations Class of 2011

On Sunday, May 22nd, Monsignor Torgerson and Fr. Tim celebrated Baccalaureate Mass with the class of 2011, SMCHS faculty, and the families of our graduates.  A variety of school and community organization-sponsored scholarships were announced and celebrated after Mass.  It is the tradition to hold the graduation awards ceremony following the Baccalaureate Mass because it is an honor for SMCHS to publicly congratulate the stellar achievements of our young adults in the presence of the people who have encouraged, inspired, motivated, and educated the recipients. 

St. Monica award recipients were presented with a plaque, medal, and/or check and will have the honor of having their names added to the series of perpetual plaques in the Mariner Hall of Fame.  The students honored were determined through a careful selection process that took into consideration a variety of qualities such as scholastic ability, integrity, athleticism, leadership, and commitment to the community.  Following Baccalaureate Mass and awards ceremony, seniors and their families gathered for a small reception hosted by the freshman class. 

In front of friends and family, SMCHS seniors were presented as graduates of the school on Thursday, May 26th on the LMU campus, as green and gold graduation caps flew into the air.

Please join us in praying for the continued success of our newest graduates. Congratulations Mariners!

St. Monica Softball Headed to CIF-SS Playoffs

The St. Monica softball team received a wild-card berth and will host Santa Ynez on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m at Memorial Park.  If victorious, the Mariners would travel to Mountain Pass League champion Beaumont for a first-round game on Thursday.  Come out and support the Lady Mariners!


Havana Nights: SMASH Dinner and Auction

Thanks to all donors and attendees at this year's SMASH Dinner and Auction at the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica.  The event was a SMASHing success!  Look for next year's SMASH date in upcoming issues of the Ancient Mariner and the Mariner Parent Newsletter.


Mariners Embark on Alternative Spring Break

While many typically view spring break as a time for much needed vacation, nineteen St. Monica Catholic High School students used their break to help build houses in Mississippi through Habitat for Humanity.  The Mariners spent an entire week working with people from accross the country to rebuild areas still suffering from the devastation of hurricane Katrina.  Follow the nineteen students and two faculty chaperones on their blog by clicking here.


Mariners Support Relief Efforts in Japan

The Mariner community gathered during lunch on Tuesday, March 23 to help raise money for the relief efforts in Japan.  Click here for an article in the Santa Monica Daily Press, here for an article in The Argonaut, and here for an article and pictures in the Santa Monica Patch.


Mariners Earn All-CIF Honors in Basketball

Congratulations to senior Cory LaGuardia and junior Troy Whiteto for earning All-CIF honors in girls and boys basketball, respectively.  Both student-athletes led their teams to strong finishes in league and much excitement during the winter sports season.  Way to go Mariners!


SMCHS Academic Decathlon Team Takes Top Honors

Following a 1st place finish in division 4 in last year's competition, the Mariners once again took top honors despite being moved up to division 3 in this year's Southern California Private Schools Academic Decathlon held at Alemany High School.  With strong performances from all team members, the Mariners captured the division 3 gold medal, the team gold medal for the division 3 superquiz, and 3rd overall (out of 31 private/Catholic school teams) in the team superquiz competition.  Overall, the Mariners placed 4th out of 30 school teams and received 44 individual and team medals!  Congratulations AcaDeca team!


Bake Sale Goes Gourmet as Bravo's "Top Chef Just Desserts" Visits SMCHS


St. Monica Catholic High School was lucky enough to be treated to a bake sale of epic proportions!  SMCHS was visited by Bravo’s “Top Chef Just Desserts” – a spin-off of the 2010 Primetime Emmy winning “Top Chef.”  Contestants from Bravo’s sweetest new series competed in a bake-off for two of the most energetic groups on campus: the Pep Squad and the glee club known as the Rainbow Riders.

The episode, "GLEE CLUB" aired on  Wednesday, September 29. Click here to see highlights and the schedule for additional airings. 

Remembering Jeff Valentine

Mr. Jeff Valentine, a teacher at St. Monica from 1996 to 2006, passed away on Sunday, October 31, 2010.

While many students will remember Mr. Valentine as a chemistry teacher, he may be best remembered as the moderator of the St. Monica Catholic High School Key Club.  The Key Club served many different charities, however, the one most students recall were the weekly meals prepared and later served at the Salvation Army Shelter (Samoshel).  Over the years, hundreds of St. Monica students performed their service hours under the guidance of Mr. Valentine.  Before long students were mastering cheese sauces from scratch and could sauté onions to perfection!  More importantly, the students were equally as effective as they served the meals at Samoshel.  Upon retirement, it came as no surprise to anyone that Mr. Valentine had written a cookbook entitled “An Irreverent Guide to Basic Cooking Techniques”!

 “A Gathering of Family and Friends” to celebrate the life of Mr. Valentine will be held on Sunday, November 14, 2010 from 12Noon to 4pm at his home at 336 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.  All cards can be sent to this address as well.  Donations in Mr. Valentine’s name can be sent to SMCHS on behalf of the performing arts, of which he was a valued patron

Congratulations Class of 2010



SMCHS Distinguished Speaker Series Welcomes Marcellus Wiley ‘92 and Barbara Alexander


Marcellus Wiley ‘92, former NFL defensive end and three time NFL Pro Bowler, and Barbara Alexander, first cousin of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, visited the St. Monica Catholic High School campus on Monday, February 22 as part of the Mariner Distinguished Speaker Series.  With the entire school community gathered in St. Monica Church, both Mr. Wiley and Mrs. Alexander spoke to students about the constant need to persevere, especially in the most difficult of times.


Following a historical synopsis of Rosa Parks’ Life, Mrs. Alexander recounted various family events with Rosa Parks and her caring demeanor with everything she did.  “Rosa Parks always emphasized dignity, pride, courage and responsibility” Mrs. Alexander told students.  Following her presentation, Mrs. Alexander invited students to look at some of the relics from Rosa Parks’ life on various tables set-up for display.

Marcellus Wiley spoke to students about the importance of developing a strong foundation while in high school in order to allow for dreams to come to fruition.  Mr. Wiley talked about his time at St. Monica and how his sacrifices and hard work led him to not only succeed athletically through football, but academically as well, having attended Columbia University.  Mr. Wiley also encouraged students to become dynamic and balanced individuals, utilizing all the resources and guidance around them.

The St. Monica Catholic High School community thanks Marcellus Wiley and Barbara Alexander for taking the time to visit us and share their great insights.


St. Monica Girls Soccer Defeats Cantwell, Wins League Title


Congratulations to the Camino Real League Champion Girls' Varsity Soccer team who defeated Cantwell yesterday 5-0.  Sophomore Taylor Dorris led the scoring with 2 goals, while feshman Daisy Gonzalez, and seniors Sarah Salarkia and Sandy Olguin had a goal each.  Senior Jessica Centeno had her 10th shut out of the season in goal.

The girls finished league undefeated with a record of 7-0-1. Congratulations Girls' Varsity soccer!  Good luck in playoffs!!


St. Monica Boys Basketball Captures League Championship


The St. Monica Boys Basketball team defeated the Mary Star Stars last night 55-48, securing the Camino Real League championship in the process and a potential top league seed once CIF-SS playoffs begin.

SMCHS boys basketball players pose for a picture following their victory over Mary Star on Wednesday night

The boys basketball team has played strong all season, boasting a 17-9 record overall and a 9-1 record in league.  The Mariners, currently ranked 11th in the latest CIF-SS poll, needed a victory in their last game to ensure that a league championship would be brought home.  Earlier in the season, the Mariners lost an overtime game to LaSalle high school at home, a loss that would later be avenged during the second meeting between both teams.  With the victory on Wednesday, the Mariners are guaranteed at least a share of the league title with LaSalle and a potential top league seed once CIF-SS playoffs begin next week. 

Congratulations to Coach Depa and the boys basketball team for a great effort in league play.  Good luck in the playoffs!


St. Monica Brings Home Academic Decathlon Victory


The St. Monica Catholic High School decathlon team recently participated in the 2010 Southern California Private Schools Academic Decathlon held at Bishop Alemany High School.  After two weekends of competition, the SMCHS Decathlon team was awarded the Division Overall and Super Quiz Championships.

Led by SMCHS teacher and decathlon coach Jeremy Nelson, the SMCHS Decathlon team consisted of 9 students who devoted countless hours to study the content relevant to this years theme – The French Revolution.  Team members voluntarily met each morning at 7:00 to practice speeches, essay writing, and interview.  Day one of this year’s decathlon took place on January 30th and consisted of the subjective tests, essay, speech and interview.  Day two of the competition took place on Saturday, February 6th and consisted of the objective tests, including the public super quiz, team dinner, awards ceremony and celebration.  Even in the face of fierce competition at this year’s event, the St. Monica decathletes persevered and displayed pride, self-confidence, and true sportsmanship.  Along with the Division Championship and Division Super Quiz Championship, each of the decathletes were awarded individual medals in the various subject areas.  By the end of the night, the team had won a combined 49 medals.  Of the twenty eight total teams, St. Monica came in 8th overall, potentially moving St. Monica Catholic High School to a higher division for next year’s competition.

Congratulations to Coach Nelson, Nghia-Piotr Le, Kara Yasui, Leila Ehsan, Stephanie Gusman, Anna Brewer, Adrian Santiago, Ken Robertson-Brown, Vincent Flores, and Maria Cristales for their tremendous effort and accomplishments!


SMCHS Community Celebrates Catholic Schools Week


This week the St. Monica parish and its schools are celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  The SMCHS community has worked diligently in planning appreciation days to honor and thank members of our community who continually make a difference and help make Catholic education a great investment. 

St. Monica students visit St. Sebastian Parish during Catholic Schools Week

Principal Thom Gasper kicked of the Catholic Schools Week celebration by addressing parishioners at Sunday mass and discussing how St. Monica Catholic High School provides an education that goes beyond four years of schooling.  On Monday, the SMCHS community thanked all SMCHS parents for their incredible support as part of Parents Appreciation Day.  Students wrote notes to their parents thanking them for the sacrifices they make to make a St. Monica education possible.  On Tuesday, students thanked St. Monica donors through phone calls made to alumni donors of the past few years.  These calls helped to thank the alumni who continue to help make a St. Monica education affordble.  On Wednesday, students from all grade levels participated in Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day in honor of teachers and staff that continue provide a great education.  Thursday will serve as an opportunity for the students to be thanked for their great efforts as part of Student Appreciation Day.  Finally, SMCHS will honor and appreciate parish priests and religious is the west Los Angeles area on Priest and Religious Appreciation Day.   

We wish to thank everyone who continues to assist in numerous ways that allow St. Monica Catholic High School to provide an education that pays “Dividends for Life”


St. Monica Schools Announce New President


Thom Gasper, principal of St. Monica Catholic High School for the past 5 years, has been selected to fill the new position of Schools President at St. Monica, effective July 1, 2010.  "This important role has come to fruition in the best time for our schools" Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson wrote in a letter to parents of both schools.  "They are currently very strong in their admissions, academics, and spirituality, and will further benefit from having a President to support our two schools in these and other ways".

Thom Gasper has been employed with St. Monica Catholic High School for 16 years.  He has earned a bachelors degree, masters degree in Catholic school administration, and teaching credential from the University of Notre Dame and Loyola Marymount University, respectively.  Mr. Gasper has worked with the Archdiocese on advisory councils, visiting teams, and WASC teams to improve other schools, especially those with low enrollments.  Mr. Gasper and his family have also been active members of St. Monica parish for 18 years.

Upon Mr. Gasper’s acceptance of this position, a search for a new principal for St. Monica Catholic High School was immediately set into motion, and is currently underway.

We wish Mr. Gasper continued success as he assumes the first President's role in our schools' history.  Congratulations Mr. Gasper!

2009 Mariner News Articles

Mariners Designated as AP Scholars by College Board

St. Monica Catholic High School is very proud to announce that 30 (more than 20%) of its graduates of the class of 2009 received passing scores on AP exams, qualifying them for college credit. Among those 30 were 8 seniors who will be designated as AP Scholars by the College Board for successfully passing at least 3 AP exams. The College Board’s AP Program offers students the opportunity to take challenging college-level courses while still in high school and to receive college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on AP exams.  Students took AP exams in May of 2009 after completing challenging college-level courses at their respective high schools.  Less than 20% of the more than approximately 1.5 million high school students in more than 16,000 secondary schools worldwide who took AP exams performed at a sufficiently high level to merit the recognition of AP Scholar.

Congratulations to the following members of the class of 2009 who successfully passed the indicated number of AP exams in the areas of Biology, Calculus, English, Government, History, and/or Spanish and will be attending the universities listed: 

Jonathan Cagliata (5) UCLA
Carrie Hodge (5) USC
Anthony Jondreau (3) Syracuse
Kathleen (Katie) Moriarty (3) Occidental
Khyrysta Renteria (3) UC San Diego
Kara Ruane (3) UC Berkeley 
Hector Santiesteban (5) Loyola Marymount
Robert Wilkinson (5) UCLA

Congratulations, Mariners!  We are equally as proud of the efforts of our teachers in preparing our students for their AP exams.  St. Monica Catholic High School remains committed to providing its students with the skills and support necessary to succeed at the college level and beyond.

St. Monica Celebrates the Class of 2009

On May 28th, on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, the St. Monica class of 2009 graduated in front of hundreds of parents, alumni, and friends in attendance.  Along with speeches from principal Thom Gasper and Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson, valedictorian Robert Wilkinson and salutatorian Carrie Hodge spoke of the manner in which involvement in SMCHS activities brought out the best in themselves and in their classmates. Robert, captain of the league champion cross-country team, will be attending UCLA in the Fall. Carrie, president of the SMCHS Black Cultural Society, was accepted at several selective universities including Brown, Columbia, and NYU. She opted to accept the Trustee’s Scholarship at USC, which will pay for her tuition and living expenses for 4 years. 

Following the awarding of diplomas, the graduation festivities continued with a reception for families and friends and a fun-filled evening for St. Monica's newest graduates at Disneyland's Grad-Nite.

Congratulations to all St. Monica graduates for a great four years!


Mariner science curriculum comes to life!

The SMCHS Honors Biology classes and their instructor Mr. Bill Wengeler recently traveled to Joshua Tree National Park. While camping there, students took part in a rock climbing class, assisted with an on-going dendrochronology (study of the aging of trees) project, and learned about some of the adaptations that suit plants and animals to the desert environment. 

The National Park Service recently discovered that some trees, including the Joshua Tree itself, are much older than previously believed. Contributing their efforts to the dendrochronology project, students learned field techniques in a classroom setting before venturing out into the field to conduct research that will be included in the Park Service’s long-term study. While in the field, students used GPS units to determine the location and elevation of their subject trees then took various measurements of the park’s native trees. Students also examined some of the adaptations exhibited by plants and animals to life in a desert by learning about root systems designed to maximize water uptake, various mechanisms employed by plants to retain moisture, and the burrowing and nocturnal habits of desert fauna. 

The SMCHS science department sponsors several trips aimed at bringing the curriculum to life.  High school-aged parish youth are invited to join our Mariner scientists in next year’s trip to Costa Rica from April 5 - 9, 2010.  If interested, please contact Mr. Bill Wengeler at prior to June 1st.

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