JSerra Catholic High School

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JSerra Catholic High School
26351 Junipero Serra Road


Coordinates33°31′16″N 117°40′06″W / 33.5211°N 117.6682°W / 33.5211; -117.6682Coordinates: 33°31′16″N 117°40′06″W / 33.5211°N 117.6682°W / 33.5211; -117.6682
School typePrivate, owned by parent guild, High School
MottoSiempre Adelante
(Always Forward)
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Patron saint(s)St. Junipero Serra
PresidentRichard T. Meyer
PrincipalEric Stroupe
Color(s)Crimson, Black, Gold
Athletics conferenceCIF-SS; Trinity League

JSerra Catholic High School is a private coeducational Catholic high school located in San Juan Capistrano, California. Named after now-Saint Junípero Serra, the school was founded by parents in 2003 and is independent of, though sanctioned by, the Diocese of Orange. Total enrollment as of 2015 was 1,225.

The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 the school was named as one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the United States by the Catholic High School Honor Roll of the Cardinal Newman Society.[1]


Planning for a new Catholic high school to serve South Orange County began in 1998. Unlike most Catholic schools, which are established by dioceses or religious institutes, the effort was spearheaded by Catholic laity led by Marc Spizziri, a local car dealer, and Timothy Busch, a tax attorney.[2] The original plan had been to build on 35 acres of land owned by Rancho Capistrano Ministries, founded by Robert A. Schuller and run by Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which had been donated by businessman John Crean. Negotiations failed, however, as Rancho Capistrano wanted to participate in teaching, but the high school would have excluded non-Catholic instructors from teaching religion.[3]

They acquired a different parcel nearby, close to Interstate 5, where the current campus is located. The planned athletics fields, aquatics facilities, and performing arts center garnered stiff opposition from members of the Juaneño band of the Acjachemen people. The land was the site of the former village of Putiidhem.[4] Patricia Martz, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles who joined the opposition, estimated as many as 175 bodies could be buried there. Others, however, like local archaeologist Henry Koerper at Cypress College, cast doubt on those estimates, noting that only seven burial plots had been discovered.[5] David Belardes, designated by the state of California to represent the Juaneño, agreed to the plan so long as only fields, not buildings, were constructed, and that a monument be placed on the land. Other factions of Juaneños rejected Belardes' authority, however, and joined neighboring property owners and environmentalists in a group called Spirit of Capistrano to block the project. Adding further complications, the Capistrano Unified School District identified the site as its first choice for a new middle school, and considered using eminent domain to take possession of it.[5]

Two lawsuits were filed, and opponents attempted to hold a public referendum on the project, though they failed to gather enough signatures.[2] Picketers greeted students on the first day of school, September 3, 2003.[6] Ultimately, the school district decided against the use of the property for its middle school. A last lawsuit, brought against the city of San Juan Capistrano for changing the zoning to allow the school's construction, was dismissed later in the month,[7] and construction went forward as planned on November 18, to be completed for 2006.


JSerra competes in the Trinity League of the CIF Southern Section as the Lions. The school is seen to have sports rivalries with Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Dana Hills High School, and Mater Dei High School.

As of 2015, the JSerra athletic program offers soccer, volleyball, water polo, swimming, baseball and softball, golf, basketball, cross country, track and field, boys' lacrosse, tennis, cheerleading football, and rugby as well as an award-winning choral music program. The $40 million athletic complex occupies 29 acres adjacent to the academic campus and features a 2000-seat gymnasium, Olympic-class swimming pool, and various fields and courts all using artificial turf.[8] The golf teams practice at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo.

In 2014, the Lions had a history breaking season record 10-2 making the playoffs. The lions had a lot of talent and defeated nationally recognized, Mater Dei. Coach Jim Hartigan stated “Football is the greatest gift to mankind, you should have seen me back in my glory days as a third string safety for saddleback.” After this successful season the lions got recognized as a powerhouse football school according to Max Preps and as a great college prepatory school.

In 2018, the Lions finished their football season 9-3 under Head Coach Pat Harlow. The season ended with a 34-35 loss to Oaks Christian during the 2018 CIF Southern Section Division 1 Playoff. Their 2018 season left them ranked 17 in the Nation and 7 in the State.[9]


In December 2011, Spanish teacher and girls junior varsity volleyball coach Ricardo Aldana was arrested on suspicion of a sex act involving a student under age 14. In a statement, the school said they were "outraged and sickened" by the charges; they cooperated fully with the investigation and dismissed Aldana.[10] Aldana was subsequently convicted on three counts of sexual molestation and sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in a state prison.[11][12]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "2006 Catholic High School Honor Roll". Catholic High School Honor Roll. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  2. ^ a b McKibben, Dave (November 26, 2004), "JSerra Co-Founders Bruised but Not Regretful As Expansion Proceeds", Los Angeles Times, retrieved November 18, 2015
  3. ^ Borgatta, Tina (September 27, 2001). "Ministry Cancels Land Deal for Catholic School". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  4. ^ May, James (January 5, 2005), "School threatens ancient village site", Indian Country Today, retrieved November 18, 2015
  5. ^ a b Luna, Claire (September 16, 2002), "Tug Over Indian Burial Site Escalates", Los Angeles Times, retrieved November 18, 2015
  6. ^ McKibben, Dave (September 4, 2003), "Juaneno Indians Split Over Catholic High School Opening", Los Angeles Times, retrieved November 18, 2015
  7. ^ McKibben, Dave (September 24, 2003), Juaneno Suit Against Athletic Site Is Dismissed, retrieved November 18, 2015
  8. ^ "Athletic Facilities", JSerra website, retrieved November 18, 2015
  9. ^ Template:Http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/jserra-catholic-lions-(san-juan-capistrano,ca)/football/schedule.htm
  10. ^ Shyong, Frank (December 15, 2011), "JSerra teacher arrested in molestation case", The Orange County Register, retrieved December 15, 2011
  11. ^ Hartley, Eric (May 29, 2014), "Ex-JSerra teacher convicted of sex with former student", The Orange County Register
  12. ^ "Former JSerra Teacher Gets 3 Years in Prison for Sex with a Student". San Juan Capistrano, California Patch.
  13. ^ "Alumnus Kyler Pettis Wins Daytime Emmy Award". JSerra Catholic High School. May 13, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-04.

External links[edit]