National Merit Scholarship finalists from Notre Dame Prepataory in Scottsdale. Five more from two other Catholic high schools are also finalists. More than half of all finalists earn college scholarships, according to the organization. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Preparatory)

Here is a quick look at some of the feats the diocese’s 12,000 Catholic school students accomplished so far in April:


  • National Merit Scholar Finalists — High school seniors are proving that their Catholic education has prepared them for college. Eight of them at three schools have been named National Merit Scholar finalists so far for scoring well nationally on their PSAT.
    — Kolton Boothman attends Bourgade Catholic and has spent his life in Catholic schools. He’s ranked top in his class and is also a National Hispanic Merit Scholar. Read his bio.
    — At Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale, Nirali Patel, Douglas Wong and Luke Zaro are National Merit Finalists with another four — Gunnar Gleisner, Edward Hietter, Brett Reardon and Katie Walters — from Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler. More than half of all finalists earn college scholarships.
  • Patel, Notre Dame’s valedictorian, and Wong are also semifinalists in the U.S. Presidential Scholars competition. Up to 141 finalists will be named a scholar and receive a trip to Washington, D.C. Three other local Catholic high schoolers have been named semifinalists since 2006 with one from Xavier going on to be a finalist.
  • Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale has its first Flinn Foundation Scholar in senior Nirali Patel. She is one of 20 Arizona high school seniors to receive the scholarship, which is four years of tuition, room and board and expenses at an Arizona public university plus academic travel abroad in Hungary. Press release.
  • Five students from Brophy College Preparatory will compete in the National Science Bowl Championships this weekend and two teams competed in the National History Bowl Championships.
  • Local educators lectured at the National Catholic Educators of America’s annual conference. Preston Colao, principal at Bl. Pope John XXIII School in Scottsdale, and Tanya Bartlett, the social studies chair at Notre Dame Prep, shared their story about assessing and measuring Expected Schoolwide Learning Results at Notre Dame. More than 10,200 Catholic school educators attended the conference. Schools outside Arizona later asked Colao to share Bl. Pope John XXIII’s successes with them.
  • Lianna Scott, a junior at Xavier College Preparatory and an AP English student, was the only Arizona winner in the tenth through twelfth grade division of a recent writing/poetry contest. Her entry, “Once Upon a Window Pane,” was reviewed for literary merit, creativity and social significance. It will be published in an “A Celebration of Poets” anthology which should be available this month.
  • Three other Xavier students also achieved high merit
    — Michelle Klein, a junior, won the Junior ST(EM)2 Innovation Award from Arizona State University’s College of Technology and Innovation. The award also qualifies her for a scholarship.
    — Dianne Numkena, a junior, was selected for a six-week residential program at MIT for promising high school juniors.
    — Sarah Enviso, a senior, earned a merit-based and enrichment scholarship at the University of Notre Dame. Part of it includes upcoming summer travel.
  • Most Holy Trinity Catholic School joined the Canyon Christian Schools Consortium, a partnership through Grand Canyon University. It’s the fifth diocesan elementary school to do so. The partnership grants members 15 percent off GCU tuition for Most Holy Trinity staff and parents.
    Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler, joined local Catholic high schools already in the consortium earlier this year. Students who enroll for college classes receive housing scholarships per year spent at Catholic school.


  • Taylor VanNortrick, a senior at Notre Dame, is one of three recipients of the Scottsdale Community Collaborative Scholarships funded through corporate sponsorships for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration and La Gran Fiesta. VanNortrick also earned a Certificate of Excellence awarded to the top 10 percent of Arizona applicants competing for The Prudential Spirit of Community Award. The award recognizes students who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.
  • The Society of St. Vincent de Paul recognized Jessica Pedroz, a junior at Xavier College Preparatory, for her leadership role in serving the poor at the organization’s Family Evening Meals.
  • Eric Andrews, a junior at Brophy College Preparatory, was voted into the Lieutenant Governor position for the local division of the Southwest District Key Club. Andrews will represent Key Clubs, a service based high school club, from five area high schools including Brophy and St. Mary’s.
  • Service Learning Presentation photos from Most Holy Trinity. The eighth-graders researched a problem in the community, reacted to it and created ways to renew efforts to solve it. Facebook photos.
  • Eighth-graders at Our Lady of Mount Carmel learned hands-only CPR April 23 through the CPR Anytime program. In the last two years, students in turn used the materials and video to train more than 600 others. Donations from the Arizona Cardinals Charities and the American Heart Association helped sponsor the program.


Competition for the Catholic Youth Athletic Association for junior high athletes wraps up in late April. Seventh-and eighth-graders compete for a trophy.

  • Girls Basketball — St. Mary-Basha in Chandler earned first place in the “large school” division. Phoenix’s St. Francis Xavier and St. Thomas the Apostle came in second and third.
    For “small schools,” Mesa’s Christ the King earned first place. Phoenix’s St. Jerome and St. Gregory came in second and third.
    Seventh-grade only teams held a separate competition with St. Francis Xavier emerging victorious. Bl. Pope John XXIII School in Scottsdale came in second and St. Thomas the Apostle came in third.
  • Boys Baseball — Ss. Simon and Jude finished first in the “big school” division with contentious second and third-place finishes. According to a press release from Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s coach, the semifinal round between the Tempe school and All Saints Episcopal Day School included a questionable move by All Saints in the bottom of the fifth inning. There was a rule violation involving the pitcher, but the game went on with All Saints winning. The next day, a CYAA decision allowed the game to be replayed from the bottom of the fifth inning, this time following all rules. All Saints won (again).
    Phoenix’s St. Jerome took first place in the “small school” division with Avondale’s St. Thomas Aquinas coming in second and Phoenix’s St. Agnes finishing third.
    Among seventh-grade only teams, St. Thomas the Apostle finished on top with Christ Lutheran School and St. Francis Xavier rounding out the top three.

High school athletics in an array of sports is coming to an end too with some collegiate letters of intent still underway.

  • Xavier College Preparatory took home the first ever sand volleyball championship at the high school level. Five schools participated in the sport’s pilot year.
  • Luke Zaro, Notre Dame Preparatory’s salutatorian, is the state winner in the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators association’s Student Athlete Scholarship competition. He is also a National Merit finalist.
  • EPSN ranked Tyler Bruggman, a junior at Brophy, as second in state and has offers from six schools. He makes up Brophy’s first father/son quarterback duo in campus history. Wide receiver Devon Allen placed eighth. Full list
  • Shilpa Tummala, a varsity basketball player for the Lady Knights at St Mary’s High School, and nationally award-winning coach Curtis Ekmark were on “The McMahon Group” on AZ-TV earlier this month. The team went undefeated this year and is ranked top in the nation.
  • Breanna Perrone, a senior at Xavier, signed a letter of intent with Boise State University where she will run track.