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Class of 2017 Lifers

    • Top row, left to right: Gabrielle Stryker, Garan Comfort, Joshua Jacobs, Flynn Fayman, Quinn Skerlos, William Pollack, Jack Macfarlane, Rico Zegarra, Braxton Burmeister, Molly Agee, Emi Fukumura, Isabella Stephens, Jacob Church, Zoe Peritz, Neda Fashandi, Natalie Boyer. Bottom row, left to right: Andrew Levine, Charles Brown, Giana Mitchell, Liam Hosey, Malik Power, David Brewster, Jackson Bolado, Katherine Rosenbaum, Leila Bagheri, Talia Mereles, Nicole Perry. Not pictured: Konnor Rudolph, Trevor Rudolph

      Top row, left to right: Gabrielle Stryker, Garan Comfort, Joshua Jacobs, Flynn Fayman, Quinn Skerlos, William Pollack, Jack Macfarlane, Rico Zegarra, Braxton Burmeister, Molly Agee, Emi Fukumura, Isabella Stephens, Jacob Church, Zoe Peritz, Neda Fashandi, Natalie Boyer. Bottom row, left to right: Andrew Levine, Charles Brown, Giana Mitchell, Liam Hosey, Malik Power, David Brewster, Jackson Bolado, Katherine Rosenbaum, Leila Bagheri, Talia Mereles, Nicole Perry. Not pictured: Konnor Rudolph, Trevor Rudolph

Lifer Q&A

This year marks the 50th lifer class, and La Jolla Country Day School is proud to have 29 lifers from the class of 2017. Our lifers have called LJCDS home for 13 or more years. Below, 12 of our lifers reflect on their time in the Torrey community. 

Lifer: A student who has gone to the same school from nursery, junior kindergarten or kindergarten to senior year.

 

Molly Agee

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten

      Heading to Point Loma Nazarene University

List of 5 items.

  • What is the benefit of being a lifer?

    I definitely have developed such great relationships with so many different people throughout my life at LJCDS. Being a lifer here has really turned school into a second home. I feel so comfortable here, and I think that's something that is really important in being successful academically.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    The teachers have been so great to me. Every teacher has been so flexible with scheduling and my individual needs. This has allowed me to grow in so many ways, both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. They have been so positive and encouraging of my goals and aspirations outside of school and that really drives me to want to work harder both in my academics and my activities outside of school.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    When I leave I will miss the community as a whole. Specifically, I will miss working with learning specialist Katey Alexander and being around everyone in the Learning Resource Center. I am so thankful for everyone who has helped me.
  • What is one of your proudest moments?

    Playing for different sports teams throughout my whole life is something I will never forget.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I play competitive horse polo and am on the path to compete with Team USPA, an international polo team that travels around the world playing and representing the U.S.

Leila Bagheri

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten

      Heading to University of California, Berkeley

List of 5 items.

  • What does being a lifer mean to you?

    I can't imagine having spent these past 14 years anywhere other than LJCDS. The other day in the pavilion, my fourth- and sixth-grade teachers asked about college and how senior year has been. It's a great feeling to be able to visit old teachers and classrooms with comfort and familiarity. Being a lifer has given me the opportunity to not only form long lasting relationships with many of my peers and mentors but also to watch each other and myself grow.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My LJCDS teachers have inspired me to be curious. They encourage me to be a go-getter, ask questions and never quit something I set my mind on.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    I think one of my proudest moments was being voted captain of my lacrosse team. I remember being extremely grateful that my team collectively thought of me as a leader, and I vowed to do my best to live up to that title. However, I am confident that my proudest moment will be at graduation, marking the end of my 14 years at LJCDS and proving that hard work pays off.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I hope to make a difference in the world no matter how big or small. I'm not entirely sure how yet, but I would love to pursue a profession based around my passion for biomedicine and engineering that allows me to build prosthetics. Either way, I just want to make people happy and improve their lives in whatever way, shape or form I can.
  • Who are your mentors?

    My older sister is my mentor, my role model and my best friend. She picks me up when I fall down and is always my biggest supporter. Not to mention the fact that I'm extremely inspired by her and all of her accomplishments. If I'm half as happy and successful as she is by the time I'm her age [25], I will count myself lucky.

Jackson Bolado

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to Loyola Marymount University

List of 5 items.

  • What are some of your best memories from Lower School?

    The Sacramento field trip and Mrs. Kraus' puppet papa bear. The Sacramento field trip was so cool because after working almost all year on the history of California, we went to Sacramento to experience history with our own eyes as fourth graders. Papa bear puppet was so memorable for me because he greeted us every morning and made us laugh.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    I have always felt that there was someone who believed in me and believed that I could achieve something. All it takes is a teacher sitting down and having a conversation after class. The teachers' generosity and genuine care for students are what makes LJCDS so
    special.
  • Name some teachers who you want to thank.

    Mr. Hales, Mr. Dow, Mrs. Lee, Ms. Stewart, Dr. Easterling, and Profe Dutson. All of these teachers made me feel like I was going to do something great with my education. These people are more than people, they are mentors for life.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I would like to influence less privileged youth and use my platform to create a pathway for underprivileged children to have scholastic goals involving college.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I have been practicing martial arts since I was four. I plan to continue to practice martial arts through my entire life. I believe that martial arts is largely responsible for who I am today.

Natalie Boyer

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to Yale University

List of 5 items.

  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My teachers have inspired greatness in me by always being there to support me and helping me. It's also pretty cool to see teachers you had when you were younger and talk to them with a completely different perspective.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    When I leave, I think I'll miss the feeling of a community, closeness and familiarity. For the past 15 years, I've been coming to school, and every August, I get that same excitement for starting over again. It'll be weird never having that experience again, but I'll never forget it.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    Some of my proudest moments at LJCDS are performances like the musicals or choir concerts, winning lacrosse games, finishing junior year, getting into college and being able to say that I did it all with my friends.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    Though I don't know what I want to study next year or do when I get older, I know I want to do something that I love. To be passionate about your work and to love your job are essential to being happy and working to make the world better. Also, just offer general kindness to those around me and gratitude to people who help me along the way.  
  • Who are your mentors?

    My biggest mentors are my teachers and my parents. My parents are my biggest supporters, and honestly, also my friends. I don't know what I'd do without them. My teachers have also been great role models for me and helped push me to work harder when I am down.

Charles Brown

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to the University of Chicago

List of 5 items.

  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    I’ve always thought that my teachers were the best part of my LJCDS experience. They’ve taught me how to learn, how to think for myself, they’ve helped nurture my passions and helped me not only reach my goals but far exceed them. They’ve broadened my horizons to all that the world has to offer. Some of the teachers I’ve had are my closest confidants and the adults I turn to when I need them the most.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    When I graduated early, I didn’t think I’d miss LJCDS much at all, and that I’d just flip the page on that chapter of my life and start the new chapter without looking back. While some of that was true, I found that I actually did miss LJCDS a lot. I especially missed seeing my friends and teachers and learning new things from them every day. I also missed (and still miss!) Spectrum! I’ll definitely remember the adults on campus—they’ve sort of made me the person I am today with regards to the kind of lifelong learner I am.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    The moment I walked into the Upper School office the first week of my junior year and saw the all-gender restroom signs hanging on the door was hands-down my proudest moment at LJCDS. I remember thinking to myself that we finally jumped over the tallest hurdle standing in the way of us and school-wide acceptance and support of the LGBTQ+ community and that my, and Spectrum’s, hard work paid off. We still definitely have miles and miles to go, but I feel like the all-gender restrooms were really the spark.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I don’t think there’s one thing I can point to to say, “I want to do this to make the world a better place.” Making the world a better place is a lifelong commitment to the never-ending fight for justice, equality, human rights and liberty, and I feel like I’ve already dedicated my life to that fight. I hope to one day become a civil rights lawyer, but even if that doesn’t happen and life takes me on a totally different path, I know that with every single thing I do, I’ll be fighting for what’s right, and that’s what's making the world a better place.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I feel like everybody here knows me as that ultra liberal, super political kid, but one of my favorite politicians of all time is actually Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

Jacob Church

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to University of Colorado (Boulder)

List of 5 items.

  • What is the benefit of being a lifer?

    I think the benefit of being a lifer is that I am able to see growth throughout the school, myself and my peers. I am incredibly thankful that at any point in my day I can walk to the Middle and Lower schools and have insightful conversations with my old teachers almost as if I never even left.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    The teachers here have inspired me in many ways. However, I believe that the greatest thing they have taught me is to never sell myself short. They helped me believe in me. In particular, Mrs. Mighdoll and the Learning Resource Center had one of the greatest impacts on me. They gave me the tools to be the person I am today. I believe that without them, I wouldn’t be on the path I am on currently.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    I believe that every day I have been at LJCDS I have been proud of something. Whether it has been winning the Balmar Award in Middle School, or simply sitting with a new student at lunch, I feel proud every day.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I want to make the world a better place by helping those in need. At the moment I am not sure what I want to do, however, I believe LJCDS has given me the tools to figure it out and make the world a better place.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I can wiggle my ears!

Emi Fukumura

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to University of Texas, Austin

List of 5 items.

  • What are some of your best memories from Lower School?

    One of my best memories from Lower School was meeting my best friend in the third grade. We’ve been friends for the past 10 years, and I can’t imagine my life without her.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    Mrs. Nordenger and Ms. Zeavin in the community service department have really inspired me. They’re how I fell in love with community service and found a passion for it.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    I’ll miss the people the most, both the teachers and the students. At LJCDS, you know everyone. It has its upsides and its downsides, but it’s like a family, and I’ll miss that. All the students are close, and the teachers are incredibly involved. Everyone cares so much for each other.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    One of my proudest moments was when I went to Ghana on a community service trip. It was the summer after my freshman year, and it was such a life changing experience. The trip had about 18 LJCDS students, including myself. It was incredible to see how people in another country halfway around the world lived and how we could affect change in their lives.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I love community service and that is something that I want to continue into college and beyond. I also want to become a pediatrician. I’ve always loved kids and have wanted to go into medicine, so that’s a perfect way to combine both. In addition, I want to spend some time working with Doctors Without Borders.

Liam Hosey

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to University of Pennsylvania

List of 5 items.

  • What do you think is the benefit of being a lifer?

    Being a lifer at LJCDS is about the community. This has been my home for over a decade! I know every inch of this campus, the ins and outs of how the campus operates; it really gives one an appreciation for the complexities of a community as large as LJCDS. But it’s about more than just seeing familiar faces every day; it’s a way of thinking. LJCDS has a trajectory for its students: globally-conscious, highly analytical and deeply compassionate academicians. Learning in that way for the entirety of my education has made me a more well-rounded student, performer and friend. That’s the benefit of being a lifer.
     
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    I’ve had teachers from all walks of life at LJCDS. Teachers who used to be performers, worked for Pixar, conducted research at Harvard; their accomplishments alone are inspiring. But the most impressive thing about my teachers is that despite their abilities to do so many amazing things, they’ve devoted themselves fully to teaching here. Every last teacher I’ve had here has been determined to help me reach my full potential, from starting my own clubs to helping me get into my dream college.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    I’ll miss the Madrigals. It’s been a place of immense personal growth for me in high school. I’ve been involved in LJCDS performing arts since Lower School, but I’d always been a nervous performer. Choir forced me to overcome fears and learn to pursue something that I love. I’ve gone from stage fright to the tenor section leader. Beyond that, they're like a second family to me; the choir members are some of my closest friends. We’ve traveled the world together! I’ll miss those kids.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    Our performance in mock trial this year. As a relatively young startup team, our mock trial group beat some of the most established California mock trial teams in statewide completions. LJCDS even sent two teams to the county competition this year, and both placed in the top 10! Every member of the team gave their full effort, showed up rain or shine, and even picked up a few awards along the way.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    Civic engagement. Community service has been a large aspect of my extracurricular experience at LJCDS. Mrs. Nordenger took me under her wing when I was in Middle School, convinced me to join Community Service Board, and introduced me to the non-profit Project Concern International, where I went on to lead the Walk for Water fundraiser. Now, I’m going to the University of Pennsylvania to study engineering and water filtration systems to build better access to water in developing countries. It’s an issue I’ve grown close to through international service trips with the school.

Andrew Levine

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten

      Heading to Berklee College of Music

List of 5 items.

  • What are some of your best memories from Lower School?

    Mr. Langfus teaching us origami.
    Mr. Traverso teaching me long division, for some reason?
    Every single day with Mrs. Bial.
    Star Captain during PE.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My teachers throughout my experience at LJCDS have always pushed me to do my best, supported me in anything and everything, and truly worked with me to reach my greatest potential. Standout teachers throughout my time here are Ms. Zimmerman, Mrs. Bial, Mrs. Kaushansky, Mr. Rowling, Mrs. Mount-Essex, Mr. Heppner, Mr. Norland, Mrs. Bravo, Mrs. Dietsch, Ms. Stewart and Dr. Domanico.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    I’ll miss the art studio the most. The studio is my go-to space on campus to create, study, or just talk to or confide in Mrs. Bravo about anything. I’ll also miss being able to just walk across campus to visit and catch up with past teachers.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I want to study Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music and focus on the neuroscience and psychology behind the music, and why it has such a profound effect on our behavior and brain development. I’m interested in both the research and practice sides of music therapy. And I am extremely proud of LJCDS for holding an annual event (Coffee for a Cause) to raise money for Banding Together, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring music opportunities to individuals with special needs in our community.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I keep a written journal in which each entry is comprised of a playlist rather than a paragraph. My Music Journal, as I like to call it, is essentially a collective soundtrack of the past four years of my life and each song represents a memory or experience. I’m also traveling around the world the summer between high school and college (this summer) with Annika Schafer. We planned, organized and paid for this trip entirely by ourselves and can’t wait to see the world.

Talia Mereles

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to University of Miami

List of 5 items.

  • What does being a lifer mean to you?

    Being a lifer at LJCDS means that I feel a close bond with everyone around me. Not only do you know everyone's first and last names, but you’re greeted by familiar faces anywhere you go on campus. I love being able to walk down to the Lower and Middle School knowing that there's always someone there to catch up with and reminisce about old times with.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    Many teachers at LJCDS have inspired greatness in me in so many ways. The teachers here have pushed me to my full potential and have supported me with all of my goals.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    One of my proudest moments at LJCDS is when I started our school’s first news show, LJCDTV. I had a goal to start a broadcasting club that brought school news to our community in a fun and creative way. I also wanted to unite our high school as well as highlight students’ hidden talents.

    And being able to participate in the community service trips all over the world has filled me with gratitude and pride. I documented each trip and shared my experiences with underclassman, parents, the administration and youtube nation. Here is a video I made after the trip to Tanzania, Africa.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I want to make the world a better place by helping people find the light in everything they do. Everyone deserves to know how special they are and realize they all have something to offer to the world. I also want to continue creating videos that inspire others to see and look for the beauty in life.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    Ever since I was seven years old I’ve known what I’m passionate about. I would have my dad videotape me, and I’d have the “Talia Show” with exclusive interviews with my rockstar brother, Max.

Quinn Skerlos

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to Georgetown University

List of 4 items.

  • What are some of your best memories from Lower School?

    My best memories in Lower School tend to revolve around the amazing teaching staff that has surrounded me since I entered LJCDS in kindergarten. Ms. Bingham and Ms. Biall were two of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of learning from, and facilitated the amazing learning experiences Lower School gave me. While it is hard to pick a specific event, my overall happiness with my Lower School experience has a lot to do with teachers like them.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    As a student, your success and failure rests solely on your own effort, but my teachers have been able to support me as long as it took to reach my potential.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    I'm going to miss going to a school, which really felt like a second home to me.
  • Who are your mentors?

    My mentors on campus have always been my history and language teachers, but my AP World and AP U.S. Government teacher, Mr. Shulman, has been the reason for my extraordinary growth throughout high school. His AP World History course taught me how to be a serious student, but more importantly, he has led me to a number of fantastic extra-curricular opportunities. Without him, I doubt that I would be attending my dream school, and I would be much less ready to join the real world.

Gabrielle Stryker

    • <strong>Called LJCDS home since kindergarten</strong>

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to Tufts University

List of 5 items.

  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    Throughout my years at LJCDS, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a wide range of faculty, all of whom have interesting stories to tell. I’ve heard different perspectives, and through them, I’ve been able to grow and discover what I’m passionate about. They’ve inspired me to just keep being me and to keep learning.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most?

    I’m going to miss the friends and people I’ve grown used to seeing every day. I’m going to miss early mornings in the choir room, late nights in the theater during tech weeks, but those moments will also be the things that I remember the most.
  • What are some of your proudest moments?

    I would have to say some of my proudest moments came during my senior year. I auditioned and got a part in our school's Honors Choir, the Madrigals. Putting on the production Footloose was an amazing experience with an incredible cast that I’ll never forget. I also was fortunate enough to be able to give my senior speech to the entire Upper School, which was a big stepping stone for me.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I want to keep writing stories that matter to me, and hopefully, I’ll get them published one day. I also want to go into marine biology and study our oceans, and maybe, hopefully, find a way to help heal our planet.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    I’ve been writing for almost six years and have a few of my short stories in our Upper School writing journal Pegasus.

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