September Monarchs of the Month: Lily Schuda and Nick Van Dalsem

Kristen Castillo, Editor-in-Chief

 At the beginning of each month, teachers are asked to nominate one boy and girl from the senior class who they believe exemplify monarch character. These nominees are then honored as the Monarchs of the Month by school principal Frances Clare. On Sept. 5, Lily Schuda and Nick Van Dalsem were named the first Monarchs of the Month of the school year.

Schuda nominated for her success in different Mater Dei programs

Schuda was nominated because of her involvement on ASB, the varsity song team, and attendance at Girls State.

“I get involved because I genuinely love this school and I think it’s so much fun to have a piece of you in a bunch of different activities on campus, and to see your work kind of be turned out into the school,” Schuda said. “I just love to be around my classmates.”

Over the summer, Schuda represented Mater Dei and attended Girls State, a mock government held at Claremont McKenna College. Participants create their own government as they participate in campaigns and elections.

“I was scared to go because I didn’t know a lot about government, and I ended learning a lot and had so much fun and I met some of the most amazing young women I ever [have in my life],” Schuda said.

Schuda, however, does not plan on going into politics. Instead, she finds interest in the study of biology and sciences.

“I love science,” Schuda said. “I have always been pretty good at science and I’m really interested in life science and the body.”

On ASB, Schuda is the head commissioner of the Learning to Lead program, which is put on by the commission in October to teach middle school students leadership skills. She is also a frequent volunteer at Mater Dei’s annual Special Games and a peer mentor for students in the new Options program.

“I love it so much. It’s so much fun,” she said. “I think that’s really a special thing to be a part of.”

Schuda says that her best memories of high school are ones where students are encouraged to show their Monarch pride.

“One of my best memories as a high schooler, I think would be all the sporting events and rallies,” Schuda said. “Just seeing all of our students come as one and just the excitement that we have, whether it be for an academic achievement for someone, or it be a sports game, a national championship, just all the spirit that we have and how proud we are to be a Monarch.”

Though busy with many activities, she credits her success to the support of the entire Mater Dei community.

“…The Mater Dei family is really a family and I love feeling like I have so much support and people I can go to in my life,” Schuda said.  

Her goal for her senior year is to enjoy it to the fullest. She wishes to form closer and stronger bonds with her classmates.

“I mean I know a lot of my classmates, but make sure I really know everyone that way, just to really emphasize that family bond we have, because the class of 2019 is really close and we’re lucky for that,” Schuda said.

Van Dalsem nominated for his various leadership roles

Van Dalsem was nominated because he is ASB president, a theatre member and an honors chambers singer, .

“I’m really surprised and I’m really excited because I didn’t think this was going to happen but I’m really honored and it feels great to have my work recognized and it’s a true honor and I’m really excited to keep going and keep getting work done,” Van Dalsem said.

Being the president of ASB, Van Dalsem has the responsibility of planning different school events and improving campus life. He works constantly with ASB directors and officers to plan these functions for the student body.

“Basically anything the student body wants to see, I’m trying to make it happen, so in terms of dances, themes, what they want to do for the games, what music they want, like I’m always trying to listen out and trying to make that happen,” he said.

By the end of the school year, Van Dalsem hopes that he is able to unify the student body and prevent common cliques from forming throughout the school.

“I know there is no way I can completely get rid of all of them, but if I can make someone else talk to someone they’ve never talked to before and become friends or have some person sit at a new table at lunch, then I’ll have achieved my goal,” Van Dalsem said.

In addition to his job as president, Van Dalsem is heavily involved in the theatre and choir programs. According to Van Dalsem, he has been a member of the Honors Chambers choir for two years, the improv comedy club and in more than 10 school theatre productions.

“When I came to Mater Dei, I figured why not dive in and get involved in as much as I can and it was the best decision I ever made because I am so immersed in this school and this tradition and I’ve never been happier,” he said.

In his final year of high school, Van Dalsem hopes to make new memories that he is able to look back on a positive experience. According to Van Dalsem, his time at Mater Dei is “one of the best times of his life.”

“I was a totally different person before this,” he said. “I was introverted and shy and being a part of theatre and ASB and improv has totally made me come out of my shell and make new friends and it’s been an amazing experience.”