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Class of 2016 Lifers

Lifers
Noun | lif·er | \ˈlī-fər\

A student who has gone to the same school for 13 or more years from nursery, junior kindergarten or kindergarten to senior year. 



From top, left to right: Sophie Ausmus, Samantha Severe, Natalie Hammond, Rebecca Schleimer, Rhys Osborne, Kieran Jha, Katie Lyle, Cameron Wirtz, Charlotte Scurlock, Clara Valenzuela, Ashley Saven, Sabina Schaffer, Rachel Church, Samara Assomull, Rachel Kritzik, Arya Massarat, Uma Assomull, Ryan Kawano, Zia Rady, Elise Edman, Claudia Mortyn and Julianne Martin



Q&A with the Class of 2016 Lifer

La Jolla Country Day School has become a second home for our lifers. Below, 12 lifers from the Class of 2016 reflect on their 13 or more years at Country Day. Click on each name for more.

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  • Sophie Ausmus

    Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys
    Dartmouth College



    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?
    Honestly, I don't have one because there have been so many. My proudest thing is getting what I was promised. The school promises their students that they will help them achieve their dreams and balance their schedules to do whatever they want. I was able to get into my dream school while also pursuing my passions of singing, sports, etc.

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Middle School?
    I remember going to our eighth-grade graduation party and everyone crying at the slideshow of pictures from years past. We were so sad to see the time pass; I have no idea how I'm going to survive my high school graduation!

    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior?
    Getting to feel so special in the community and reflecting on our past experiences at the school.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS?
    The faculty. I will never forget them and the things they have taught me. I am truly grateful for them.

    Q: What are three personal items you cannot live without?
    Guitar, bunny stuffed animals, computer
     

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  • Uma Assomull

    Called LJCDS home since Kindergarten
    Southern Methodist University
     

    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?

    I think that graduating will be my proudest moment at Country Day because it shows that I have been able to push myself through tough times and hard classes.

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    By motivating me and recognizing how hard I’ve been trying. Also, some of them (Mrs. [Susie] Nordenger, Ms. [Robin] Stewart and Mr. [Glen] Pritzker etc.) helped me get out of my comfort zone.

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    The people I’ve been surrounded with.
     
    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior?
    Having senior privileges and not being scared to talk to your teachers; having a personal relationship with some of them.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS?
    It’s such a close-knit community and all the great opportunities.
     
    Q: What are three personal items you cannot live without?
    My phone, my watch and a necklace my grandma gave me before she passed away.

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  • Elise Edman

    Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys
    Davidson College


    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?

    Helping to lead the Dig for the Cure breast cancer awareness/fundraiser volleyball event since sophomore year.

    Q: What is your fondest memory in Upper School?
    Traveling to the Dominican Republic my sophomore year with some of my best friends and my dad. We got to teach English to children in a small community in Monte Cristi.

    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior?
    The best part is not having to worry as much about finding the right college, grades and the workload, and being able to cherish the last few months at LJCDS with my best friends.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS?
    I love how much it feels like a community. I honestly feel like everyone cares about each other and we want others to do well. I love the community service program and being able to give back.

    Q: Who are your mentors?
    My dad (Mr. [John] Edman), my mom, Mrs. [Susie] Nordenger



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  • Arya Massarat

    Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys
    Harvey Mudd College



    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?
    My proudest moment was receiving the Faculty Prize and Trustees’ Award at my Middle School commencement.

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Lower School?
    My fondest memories are of my friends and I building sand castles in the Lower School playground as first, second and third graders.

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    My teachers mostly inspire me by the expectations they hold for us and for themselves. They continue to push the class discussion into unexplored territory, often asking us to think broadly about the world we live in. It’s from them that I have learned to ask questions and lead change.

    Q: Who are your mentors?
    Of all my teachers, Ms. [Robin] Stewart and Mr. [Todd] Lineback have been the most inspiring.

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    When I leave Country Day, I probably won’t remember exactly what a teacher or friend may have said about something, yet the attitudes and ideas that I have learned to understand from them are undoubtedly ingrained in me for years to come. The people at this school have indelibly shaped how I look at the world and thus ultimately, what I understand from it.

    Q:What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    To make the world a better place, I’d like to open up the Study Cloud site to other schools and colleges to promote the collaboration and selflessness that I saw at Country Day. [Study Cloud is a site built by Arya where Upper School students can share academic notes.]
     

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  • Sabina Schaffer

    Called LJCDS home since kindergarten
    UCLA


    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?
    My proudest moments so far have included performing in the Upper School musicals as Marcy Park in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and Cinderella in “Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Middle School?
    One of my favorite memories from Middle School was in the sixth grade when our history class did a reenactment of the Battle of Bunker Hill at a park with nerf disk guns, and we played capture the flag on hills and through the forest.

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    I think I’m going to remember the people the most. Being here for 13 years, I pretty much know everyone and their last names. The sense of community that Country Day has and the fact that I can go back to see any of my old teachers from any grade whenever I want is something that not every school has. Country Day is practically my second home, and I will always remember the sense of familiarity and comfort it brings me.

    Q: What’s your favorite book?
    One of my favorites from when I was younger was “The Book Thief,” and currently, I am very into graphic novels like “Persepolis” and memoirs about mental health or psychological topics. 

    Q: What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    I am very interested in medicine and psychology, so I like to think that through one of those fields I’ll be able to help people.
     

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  • Samantha Severe

    Called LJCDS home since Pre-K
    Boise State University


    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?
    I have so many moments that have made me proud to be a Country Day student. I think the moments that have had a large impact on me was the moments I found out I was going to join Community Service Board my sophomore year and when Mrs. Nordenger asked me to lead the T.R.A.C.E. group my senior year.

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Lower, Middle or Upper School?
    In Lower School, one of my fondest memories was getting first place in the relay during Olympic Day. In Middle School, attending Catalina for outdoor ed in seventh grade was probably one of my fondest memories of Middle School and there are way too many to count in Upper School. Probably one of my fondest memories would be the Dominican Republic Trip or Senior Retreat.
     
    Q: What do you remember from lunches in Lower School and Middle School?
    In Lower School, I remember how excited I was to get pizza from hot lunch every Friday and how I would eat fast so I could get to recess. In Middle School, I remember sitting against the windows of the VASC building by the art room with my friends.

    Q: Who are your mentors?
    My parents and grandparents, Mrs. [Susie] Nordenger, Mrs. [Deb] Shaul, Mr. [Gary] Peritz and so many more.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS?
    The amazing opportunities I have been given for the past 14 years. 

    Q: What are you most looking forward to in college?
    I am very excited to be moving to a new place and discover new people. I have been in the same place for my entire life so I am very excited to see what else is out there.

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  • Samara Assomull

    Called LJCDS home since kindergarten
    Santa Clara University



    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS? 

    Going to the Dominican Republic and being comfortable traveling without my parents, as well as being able to help children learn English. 

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you? 
    They have inspired me to never quit on a goal I have set and plan to achieve. 

    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior? 
    Being able to ignore our differences and bond as a grade, and do all the “lasts” together.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS? 
    The accommodations I get for having a learning difference.

    What’s your favorite book? 
    "The Great Gatsby"
     

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  • Rachel Church

    Called LJCDS home since Pre-Kindergarten


    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    My teachers have taught me to never give up and that when things get hard to stick with it and push through.

    Q: Who are your mentors?
    My parents, my siblings, Mrs. [Susie] Nordenger, Mr. [Dave] Jenkins, Mr. [Todd] Ballaban

    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior?
    I love all of the privileges that come with being a senior. I love being able to be a role model to the underclassmen. I also love how much respect we are given.

    Q: What do you love most about LJCDS?
    The thing I love most about LJCDS is how much we are a family. I love it when I’m walking back from the library to the high school and all the younger kids are lining up for PE, and I get to go up and give them high fives. It definitely makes my day. I love that we are a nursery-12 school, it adds a whole other dimension to our community in the best way possible.

    [In addition] my grade is like a family, and I know that I can count on any of them at any time, and we will always be there for each other, through both the bad and the good.

    Q: What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    There are so many things that I want to do to make the world a better place. In my lifetime, I hope to change this world. I’m not quite sure how yet, but mark my words…I will change this world.

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  • Natalie Hammond

    Called LJCDS home since kindergarten
    Syracuse University


    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?
    When my cross country team made it to state [championship] for the first time in a very long time for the girls team. The team felt like family by the end of the year, and when this unexpected opportunity happened, we were overjoyed. It was one of those moments in time I will always remember.

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Middle School?
    One of my best memories is the last performance of "Our Town" my sophomore year because the experience allowed me to not be afraid to be silly and to be less self-conscious.    

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    They have inspired me to speak up for myself and have given me the confidence to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to.  

    Q: Who is your mentor?
    My mom

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    The bonds and the friendships I’ve made at the end of my high school career have been one of the most rewarding parts of attending Country Day and what I will remember most.

    Q: What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    I just want to make a difference in the world whether it be big or small. I want to go after my goals full heartedly and treat everyone with kindness whether it is reciprocated or not.


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  • Ashley Saven

    Called LJCDS home since kindergarten
    Tulane University



    Q: What is your fondest memory from Lower School?
    I will never forget Olympic Day since it was one of the most fun and competitive days of my school career. We were able to bond as a class and also be competitive through sports. Overall, this is a memory that I will forever cherish since I was able to do it for four straight years.

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    They have inspired me to go out of my comfort zone and try new things that I would not normally do on a daily basis. They have helped me discovered my passions and goals in life that I want to fulfill. I can honestly say Country Day has become my second home.

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    I will remember most the opportunities and friendships I have made at Country Day. I will never forget the community service project a fellow lifer, Rhys Osborne ’16, and I led together during our senior year. We changed the entire Coffee for a Cause project by having it outside and made history by raising the most amount of money we have ever had for an organization called Banding Together, that provides music therapy for kids with special needs. I will remember all the community service leadership opportunities that helped me discover who I am today.

    Q: What are three personal items you cannot live without?
    My cellphone, my necklace from my Bat Mitzvah, and my parents.

    Q: What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    Since I want to become a teacher when I'm older, I am excited to educate our future generation and society. I want to teach the important resources I learned at Country Day to my future students.

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  • Rebecca Schleimer

    Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys
    University of Pennsylvania


    Q: What is your proudest moment at LJCDS?

    I’d say either getting into Cum Laude my junior year or winning the Foreign Language department award; however, I think my proudest moment at this school come May 27 [commencement] might change, but we’ll see.

    Q: What is your fondest memory from Lower, Middle or Upper School?
    Wow, there are way too many fond memories for me to just choose one, so I guess I’ll choose a memory from each. In Lower School, I liked when we used to do Valentine’s Day lunch exchanges and Secret Santa, as well as the Sacramento trip. The trip to Sacramento was really the first time I’d gone anywhere without my parents, and it was a great time.

    For Middle School, I still remember the morning of the biography fair in sixth grade, and the excitement of seeing everyone dressed in such amazing costume. I laughed when I think about how I dressed up as Edith Cavell, an obscure nurse who actually made a huge difference.

    And finally for Upper School, getting first place (before the final round) in the county mock trial competition my junior year. That was such an amazing feeling. Oh, and I also remember Shapeland, but adding any further detail is strictly prohibited in the Shulmania AP World handbook that describes the rules for Shapeland.

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    That’s a very heavy question. I guess I’ll focus on one teacher in particular: Mr. Shulman. He’s been with me through AP World, AP Gov and Mock Trial, and I’ve found that he’s really helped me find my voice in a way. The first time I had him I was a very shy, silent little sophomore. Now, after three years of the “Shulmeister,” I feel that I’ve become much more comfortable in my own skin and with the idea of raising my voice. It’s very difficult to describe. I feel like in addition to Shulman, many of my other teachers have helped me discover and mold my identity of the course of my time at Country Day, and to me, that is a sign of greatness.

    Q: What was lunch like in Lower School, Middle School and Upper School?
    In Lower School, it rotated between a ham sandwich with mustard and a peanut butter sandwich sometimes with fluff. In the latter half of Middle School, I caught on to a much better alternative: eating leftovers. I’ve been mostly doing that ever since. Now that I can go off campus, however, sometimes I go out to get lunch.

    Q: What are three personal items you cannot live without?
    My computer, pen and paper, and a dictionary.

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  • Cameron Wirtz

    Called LJCDS home since kindergarten
    UCLA
     

    Q: What’s the best part about being a senior?
    Feeling even more comfortable with the people I have known for this long, and of course, senior privileges. Teachers also treat me like I am an equal to them and respect my opinions and ideas.

    Q: When you leave LJCDS, what will you remember most?
    The relationships that I have built throughout these past 12 years, especially those with my favorite teachers and closest friends. They have helped me shape who I am today and given me guidance to be successful in the future.

    Q: How have your teachers inspired greatness in you?
    They have inspired me to go out in the community and become a changemaker. I have started a club called Musicians With A Purpose with the help of Joan Diener and Mrs. Dietsch to bring my passion of teaching and my love of music together.

    Q: What are three personal items you cannot live without?
    I cannot live without my violin, my brother or sandwiches.

    Q: What do you want to do to make the world a better place?
    I would love to spread music around the world. I have started a club called Musicians with a Purpose, which brings music to underrepresented communities that do not have music programs. I want to continue this in college and or manage a large music corporation.

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