Meet Catholic Central’s 2021 National Merit Commended Students!

Twenty-five Shamrock scholars were recognized as National Merit Scholars and/or College Board National Hispanic Scholars this year! Our eleven National Merit Commended Students took some time to introduce themselves, and to answer some questions about their experience!

Antonio Michael Valdivia Bush ’22 is from Southfield, and attended Our Lady of Good Counsel. He was also recognized as a College Board National Hispanic Scholar!
Andrew Ciarelli ’22 is from Milford, and attended St. Patrick of White Lake Middle School.
Liam Cross ’22 is from Pinckney, and attended St. Francis of Assisi in Ann Arbor.
Peter Denk ’22 is from Northville, and attended Our Lady of Victory.
Colin Harris ’22 is from Farmington Hills, and attended Sacred Heart in Dearborn.
Jonah Hurley ’22 is from South Lyon, and attended East Middle School in Plymouth.
Joel Jaskolski ’22 is from South Lyon, and attended Millennium Middle School.
Nick Licari ’22 is from Novi, and attended Hillside Middle School in Northville.
David Mondrusov ’22 is from Farmington Hills, and attended Steppingstone School.
John Smith ’22 is from Novi, and attended Hillside Middle School in Northville.
Neil Zhu ’22 is from Novi, and attended Hillside Middle School in Northville.

Read on to learn a little more about these young men!

What are some of the things you are involved with at Catholic Central? 
  • Bush: Chess club - President, Science Olympiad, and HOSA
  • Ciarelli: Finance Club, Yearbook, and Newspaper
  • Cross: Captain of Academic Team
  • Denk: Baseball, DECA executive board, and National Honor Society
  • Harris: FIRST Robotics team captain, volleyball team (middle hitter), media team, HOSA, IFL, and NHS
  • Hurley: DECA-President, HOSA-Officer, Student activities member, and NHS Member
  • Jaskolski: Chess Club and Quiz Bowl
  • Licari: I am the President of the Finance Club and a board member of Spanish honor society. I participate in DECA, Veterans Club, and the Monogram Club. I also play Varsity Soccer for CC.
  • Mondrusov: Student Officer - Senior Class Vice-president, DECA, HOSA, Finance Club, SBX, Jazz Band, and Drumline - Center Snare
  • Smith: Shamrocks for Veterans Club President, Finance Club Secretary, National Honors Society Member, Student Activities Member, Gabriel Richard Honor Roll, and Varsity Track & Field Member
  • Zhu: CC's Varsity Golf Team (Team Captain), Finance Club (Vice-President), National Honor Society, and DECA 

What are some of the things you are involved with off campus?
  • Bush: I am involved in tutoring.
  • Ciarelli: I do a lot of volunteer work with my parish, St. Mary in Milford. Although Covid has restricted many of these opportunities, I look forward to gradually participating in new events as they open back up.
  • Cross: I’m not involved in too much off campus, as quiz bowl keeps us extremely busy.
  • Denk: I play baseball and work as a lifeguard.
  • Harris: I am a Boy Scout (life scout), volunteer at Vacation Bible School, and I work freelance in website design and programming.
  • Hurley: I’m an Ambassador for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and a Research Council Member for DoSomething.
  • Jaskolski: I volunteer to help homeless people and those in need.
  • Licari: I volunteer at PB&J Outreach run through Our Lady of Good Counsel. I took a Wall Street 101 summer camp this past summer through Bentley University. I play club soccer for Michigan Wolves as well. 
  • Mondrusov: I take drum set classes, and keep busy with my property maintenance job and reffing hockey.
  • Smith: I am an Eagle Scout and Religious Ed instructor.
  • Zhu:  I volunteer for Gleaners Community Food Bank and attend Sunday service at a local Chinese gospel church. I also took a computer programming class from the University of Michigan over the summer. 

What made you decide to attend CC for high school? What is your favorite thing about CC?
  • Bush: It just seemed like an excellent school. CC's reputation really does precede it. My favorite thing is likely the sense of community. The brotherhood sounded really cheesy before I came to CC but it's definitely true.
  • Ciarelli: I made up my mind to attend CC shortly after shadowing in 8th grade. The student life was what drew me in. The plethora of opportunities and services available to students here gave me a new sense of freedom and community that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Without a doubt, my favorite thing about CC remains the spectacular student life and participating in long-lasting traditions as part of something bigger than myself.
  • Cross: I knew I wanted to go to CC after shadowing. I was thoroughly impressed with how organized and engaging the shadow process was. I loved the atmosphere. From the moment I started meeting people, I could feel the Brotherhood. It’s such a unique quality of CC that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I know I have a fantastic group of classmates, teachers, faculty, and alumni that will always support me.   
  • Denk: I wanted to attend CC mainly because so many of my middle school friends were going. The Brotherhood is still my favorite thing.
  • Harris: I felt that I fit in at CC. From my shadow days I was able to see that CC was a place I would belong at and make new friends quickly. This ended up becoming my favorite thing about it, I felt included right away in the school.
  • Hurley: I attended CC for high school because my parents wanted me to have a high school experience with a close knit class. My favorite part about CC has been just that. I never feel neglected or forgotten, and I have made friendships that I know will last for some time. 
  • Jaskolski: I wanted to enter a new environment, and CC had the kind of environment I was looking for.
  • Licari: What made me attend CC was the community spirit, the brotherhood, and the commitment to an environment of Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. I was also drawn to the smaller class sizes, the excellent academics, the opportunities provided for students to excel to the best of their ability, and the focus on representing your school through athletics and community service. My favorite thing about CC is definitely the school spirit.
  • Mondrusov: The many academic and athletic opportunities.  My favorite part are the different communities that I’ve become a part of.
  • Smith: I wanted to experience a more rigorous curriculum than the public high school could provide.  My favorite thing about CC is the Brotherhood; it’s real.
  • Zhu: I wanted to be at a school with a good golf program. My favorite thing about CC is the freedom to enjoy my high school golf season in the spring with my Fridays off. 

How has CC challenged you to grow during your time here?
  • Bush: CC has definitely challenged me to become more disciplined in my work and habits.
  • Ciarelli: CC has challenged me to grow both as a scholar and as a man of God. I’ve been able to hone my abilities in the classroom with courses outside my comfort zone, pushing me to develop strong study habits. Meanwhile, through the various encounters and events here, I’ve grown in my sense of morality and what it means to represent Christ in my everyday life.
  • Cross: CC is a great place to learn how to get out of your comfort zone. Freshman year I came in with terrible study habits and little organization. I had to quickly learn how to better prepare myself for tests and quizzes. Outside of academics, CC provides many opportunities for extracurricular activities. It gives students the ability to broaden their interests and meet new people.
  • Denk: CC continues to challenge me to be my best through rigorous sports and extracurriculars.
  • Harris: CC was my first time having to work for my scores and put extensive effort into accomplishing my goals. I chose some of the more difficult classes offered at CC and worked very hard to make sure that I would do well in them. I learned good study habits and how to overcome larger workloads.
  • Hurley: CC has given me both a competitive environment and a strong support system. I am encouraged to take difficult classes and try new extracurriculars because the people at CC will never let me fail. CC has allowed me to feel comfortable taking up new challenges. 
  • Jaskolski: I had to study a lot more and work a lot harder at CC than I was used to in middle school, so it helped improve my work ethic.
  • Licari: Classes and clubs such as the Finance Club, DECA, and Veterans club have taught me how to communicate on more of a professional level. CC has definitely taught accountability as well. 
  • Mondrusov: The many demands of excellence have fostered hard work and perseverance in me.
  • Smith: My faith has grown exponentially since my freshman year, as has my character.
  • Zhu: CC has challenged me to grow during my time here by providing a lot of opportunities for me to spend my time in clubs and volunteering. 

What are your plans after Catholic Central?
  • Bush: I plan to go to college at either University of Michigan or Notre Dame. I'm not entirely certain what I'd like to study, but I'm leaning towards neuroscience.
  • Ciarelli: My plans after CC are undecided as of right now, but I hope to go to college for marketing. Wherever I do choose to attend, I’m planning on participating as much as possible in the activities offered to me, whether that be clubs of interest or campus events.
  • Cross: I am planning on attending the University of Michigan to study Actuarial Mathematics.
  • Denk: I want to go to the best college that will take me to study engineering.
  • Harris: I’m unsure where I want to attend college, although I am considering Michigan, Case Western, Hope College, Purdue, and more. I’m deciding between studying medicine and computer science. In college, I will most likely continue some of these extracurriculars I have come to love at CC.
  • Hurley: I plan to go to college and major in both biomedical engineering and business. 
  • Jaskolski: I want to study meteorology in college.
  • Licari: I would like to attend a business based program at a university near a big city to further my studies and connections. I want to major in business and finance in college. I would also like to play college soccer. 
  • Mondrusov: I plan to go to the University of Michigan and major in either psychology or computer science, and minor in music.
  • Smith: I’d like to attend a service academy for college, where I intend on studying Computer Science.  I intend on continuing to run track in college.
  • Zhu: I would like to go to the University of Michigan after college to study computer science. I would like to play golf in college and participate in computer programming clubs. 

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about our National Merit Commended Students. You can also see the responses from our National Merit Semi-Finalists here, and from our College Board Hispanic Scholars here.
Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge” is the motto of the Basilian Fathers and the sacred mission of Catholic Central High School. For more than ninety years, the graduates of Catholic Central have made a positive impact on their communities at a local, national, and global level.