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Class of 2018 Lifers

Lifer Q&A

La Jolla Country Day School is proud to have 21 lifers from the class of 2018 for our 51st lifer class. Our lifers have called LJCDS home for 13 or more years. Below, eight of our lifers reflect on their time in the Torrey community. Check out the photo gallery from the Lifer Lunch. If prompted, the password is Torreys.

Lifer: A student who has gone to the same school for 13 or more consecutive years from Tiny Torreys/nursery, junior kindergarten or kindergarten to senior year.

Abigail Ausmus

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

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to Tisch School at New York University

List of 5 items.

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

    I think every grade level prepares you really well for the future, whether it’s for the next grade or for college. I still use things I learned from Lower School or Middle School as a high schooler. And it’s not just the content of the class, it’s learning to be an organized and responsible student, in addition to learning how to be a person of good character.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    Watching my sister graduate is something I’ll never forget. To grow up with her, also a lifer at Country Day, and see her ready to take on the world made me proud of her. My own proudest moments would be getting into the student photography exhibit at Balboa Park two years in a row. Aside from that, in this last season of volleyball, we were playing La Jolla High School at home and we were short two players because of injuries. After having to rearrange rotations on the court briefly before the game, we actually beat them in five sets without two of our key players. I also got a record high of 19 kills that match and was featured as a San Diego Union-Tribune Athlete of the Week.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    Some of my teachers at LJCDS have inspired me to challenge myself and try things I would normally be too insecure to try. For example, my English teachers have inspired me to push boundaries in my writing and my art teacher inspired me to enter my photography into student exhibits. Also, my eighth-grade science teacher encouraged me to take advanced science classes, which I was against but ended up doing really well in.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    I will miss high school assemblies, being on the volleyball team, my classmates and teachers I have close relationships with. I will remember the community service trip I went on to the Dominican Republic and the bonds formed with my classmates on that trip. I also will remember the volleyball team which felt like a family of sisters to me. Volleyball has really helped me grow as a person and LJCDS varsity volleyball will always hold a special place in my heart.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    Mr. Padgett, Mrs. Shaul, Mr. Fayman and Mr. Peritz are very honest about things with me and have helped me throughout my high school career. My sister has also been someone I could go to with anything and has achieved more than I ever would so I think she’s a good person to have as a mentor.

Alyssa Helfand

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

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to University of Michigan

List of 5 items.

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

    I remember waking up at 4:30 in the morning for our trip to Sacramento and finding gold in the Sacramento River. I will also never forget having Mr. Traverso as my fourth-grade teacher and doing “Mountain Math” in his class every morning. This was when we did 50 math problems. We tried to get them all right and if we did, Mr. T would call us “smarticle particles.”
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    Joining the mock trial team on a whim and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my high school career. I met so many new people and learned so much through the competitions. I also gained so much confidence in public speaking.
  • What do you think is the benefit of being a lifer at LJCDS?

    Being a lifer at LJCDS has truly given me a second home and a chance to feel so comfortable and familiar with my surroundings as well as the students and faculty. I also have developed the most meaningful friendships that I could ever ask for because I had the privilege of growing up next to all of my friends.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    I will miss being so comfortable in a place and surrounded by all of the amazing faculty and students that I have met along the way. I will always remember the way I feel walking through campus and knowing every single person that I pass. It truly feels like a large family.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    Leaving an impact is something that I really hold close to me. At the end of my time at LJCDS, I hope to have left an impact on people that I have come in contact with. I hope to have done this through my involvement in clubs and activities as well as just talking to people and getting to know them and showing that I care. I will continue doing this wherever I go in life.

David Kritzik

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

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to University of Pittsburgh

List of 5 items.

  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My teachers have inspired greatness in me by always being supportive and encouraging me to do my best in everything I do. With teachers being so easily accessible and wanting to help, it is easy to meet with a teacher and talk about how I can become a better student and how I can excel in their class. Whether it was Mr. Shulman working with me on my first research paper or Mrs. Diener practicing the violin with me when I was struggling, my teachers have always been able to inspire greatness in me.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    Since I’ve been at LJCDS since I was 3-years old I’m going to miss many people but I am going to miss being in the orchestra most when I graduate. I’ve been part of the orchestra at LJCDS since I was in first grade and it has been such a great community to be part of. I still see and talk to my Lower School orchestra teacher, Mrs. Riedler, and Middle School strings and orchestra teacher Mr. Rowling, and have even played with them in concerts after I moved on to high school. I’ve participated in competitions, music festivals, and traveled to places like Japan. Being in the orchestra has been amazing, it’s a great community, and I’ll definitely miss it the most.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    Some of my proudest moments are playing with Musicians with a Purpose. It’s an orchestra, band and choir group that I’ve been a member of since I was a sophomore. We play for students at schools without music programs or for elderly people at retirement homes. I’m proud every time we perform and are able to make someone’s day better or inspire a student to either play an instrument or just appreciate music more.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I want to be a mentor and role model for young students. Having a good role model can push someone to do their best, realize their potential and show them new possibilities. I would love to volunteer with underprivileged children in college. Not only would it be a fantastic experience, but I could also make a difference in someone’s life whether it is large or small. Showing students how important education is or pushing them to pursue higher education is something I would love to spend my time doing.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    My mom is a huge mentor for me. She has worked hard her whole life. She grew up with three other siblings and little money, but she was still able to graduate top of her class in high school. She worked hard in college to end up at a fantastic graduate school and now works at UC San Diego and does cancer research. My mom has shown me that circumstance doesn’t have to be an excuse and that I need to work hard to make the most out of every opportunity I get.

Alexandra Ledford

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

      Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten

      Heading to Tulane University

List of 5 items.

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

    One of my best memories from Lower School was our trip to Sacramento. It was the first opportunity I had ever had to travel without my parents and I was a little nervous but ended up having a great time. I also loved all of the performances we put together for our families. I used to love learning all the choreography and getting assigned my spot on the risers. I have really fond memories of all the special events Country Day put together for our grade in Lower School.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    The teachers that inspired greatness in me were my teachers that pushed me to be a better version of myself. The teachers that really believed in me and knew what I was capable of before I even realized it myself. Those teachers really inspired me to challenge myself and push myself outside of my comfort zone which is where I learned the most.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    The thing I’ll miss the most will be seeing my friends every day and being in such a supportive community. From the moment I step on campus until the moment I leave, I’m surrounded by people who really care about me and I’m never alone. I always have someone to walk to class with, someone to be partners with, people to hang out with at lunch, and overall just a really big support system. I’ll always remember the lunch tables in the pavilion which sounds like a strange thing to remember but I have so many good memories there.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    One of my proudest moments at Country Day has been my involvement in community service board (CSB). I worked really hard the last two years to make the board and events the best they could be. Transforming a completely blank room into a Halloween carnival is no easy task but seeing the faces of the children who live in the homeless shelter downtown light up makes it worth all the work. I feel the same way about every event CSB puts together and I’m really proud and grateful that I had the opportunity to make a difference.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    My parents are my biggest mentors. My parents are both hard-working, determined and compassionate people. They have guided me through every obstacle life has ever thrown my way but allowed me to learn for myself. They are extremely selfless and inspire me every day to be like them. I will forever look up to both of them and I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing parents.

Michael Savides

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

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to University of California, Berkeley

List of 5 items.

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

    Being a lifer helped me gain the most out of the Country Day community and set a strong foundation for nearly all aspects of my life. The relationships I formed with teachers, administrators, coaches and friends have persisted to today and have shaped the person I have become.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    All of my teachers throughout the years have helped me gain knowledge inside the classroom, but have also led me to be the best person I can be in all aspects of life. Being able to say that my teachers are some of my best role models is amazing.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    Most of all, I will miss the community. Country Day has been a second home to me for 13 years, and it's hard to imagine leaving all of the educators and friends I have met along the way. I will remember how caring the faculty and staff has been. They truly care about me during this entire journey.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    I am very proud of being inducted into the Cum Laude society along with some of my closest friends. I am also very proud of serving as Student Council President for the last year.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    Some of my mentors on campus are Mr. Jenkins, Ms. Clouser and Dr. Cox. They have all played a huge role in my development as a student of character and have shown me the way in both student council and academic endeavors.

William Shanks

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

      Called LJCDS home since pre-kindergarten

      Heading to Northeastern University

List of 5 items.

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

    I believe that the benefit of being a lifer is having the opportunity to make friendships with people and grow up with them. To me, these friends aren’t just friends, they are my family.
  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My Middle School choir director inspired me to pursue Glee Club back in eighth grade. Since then, I’ve been in the Madrigal singers, concert choir, show choir, the musical and more. She shaped me into the artistic person I am today.
  • When you leave, what will you miss the most and what will you remember the most?

    I’m going to miss sitting in Mrs. Przymus’ office every morning before school just to hang out and have conversations about whatever is going on in the world. I will forever remember the days when I was able to perform with my friends and fellow classmates in the annual musical.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    I would have to say, being able to have the opportunity to play Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes, finding my increased passion for business by creating my first startup skateboard company, and finishing my final moments with my friends I met on my first day on this campus 14 years ago.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    My mentors include Mr. Abbondanzio who helped with the skateboard startup company I and a few other students created, Mrs. Przymus for helping me increase my vocal range and for pushing me outside my comfort zones, and my dad, Russell Shanks, for teaching me that the world is my oyster and I should seize all the opportunities I can get.

Sarah Suttner

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

      Called LJCDS home since Tiny Torreys

      Heading to Davidson College

List of 5 items.

Melanie Ziment

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

      Called LJCDS home since kindergarten

      Heading to University of California, Santa Barbara

List of 5 items.

  • How have teachers inspired greatness in you?

    My teachers have inspired greatness in me through the close relationships we have been able to form.
  • What are some of your proudest moments at LJCDS?

    One of my proudest moments at LJCDS was in eighth grade when I was able to serve as part of the Middle School Advisory Council. This gave me the opportunity to organize and participate in events on campus that gave back to our surrounding community, such as the Mile for a Smile event and the Giving Tree Project.
  • What do you want to do to make the world a better place?

    I hope that whichever path I end up going down in life, I will always be able to approach challenges with compassion and a drive to find lasting solutions.
  • Who are your mentors and why?

    My mentors include my parents, who have taught me so much about what it means to have a voice and how to use it, and Dr. Fine, who has been a teacher that I look to for advice and support in all areas of my life.
  • Tell us an interesting fact about you.

    One interesting fact about me is that throughout my time at LJCDS I also danced professionally at the California Ballet Company. When I entered high school, I was able to work with the administration and find ways for my high school schedule to allow me to dance in the mornings with the professional company. I am so thankful for this opportunity because it allowed me to continue my education at Country Day and still pursue my passion for dancing.