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Congratulations to Co-Salutatorians, Joshua Tolefree and Sarah Ernat


Montini Catholic in Lombard congratulates co-salutatorians for their Class of 2022, Joshua Tolefree and Sarah Ernat.  The announcement was made on May 5th at the Lasallian college preparatory high school's 25th Annual Academic Awards Banquet (held at Bobak's in Westmont).

Joshua Tolefree, a graduate of St. John's Lutheran (LaGrange), was designated a Bronco 'academic standout' before he even began his freshman year - when he was among twenty-two (22) Placement Test scholars earning a Montini Catholic Academic Scholarship.  He is very happy and humbled to have earned the co-salutatorian honor.  "I honestly felt surprised because I was not expecting to get salutatorian," he said.  "My parents (Neal and LaDonna Tolefree) were really proud. I didn't see, but apparently my dad went to instantly call my uncles and aunts to tell them. My mom was also very proud because she knows how hard I've worked in school and all my extracurricular activities." Throughout his time as a Bronco, Joshua has excelled academically.  

He was most recently named a Bronco Academic All Star and earned the President's President's Education Award for Academic Excellence.  He is an Advanced Placement Scholar and an Illinois State Scholar.  He is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as a Peer Tutor.  He is also a member of the Spanish Honor Society and President of  Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society).  He also enjoys his time as a member of the Robotics Team as well as Montini's Book, Investment, and Chess Clubs.    

"I felt really happy during my time here and have a huge appreciation for all my teachers and peers."  It's the support of his mother, LaDonna, however, that he is most thankful for.  "I think the person who has impacted me the most is my mom. She was the one who dropped me off at school, then picked me up, only to drive back because I had a club.  She even woke up early in the morning on weekends when I had competitions. She has proofread basically all my essays for school and college and I cannot express my gratitude for her in words."

Joshua will always cherish his memories of his junior year Robotics state competition - claiming those as his favorites. "(The State competition) was held remotely, but we got a day off of classes to be in Art Room 3 where we were constantly doing practice runs with our robot to get the best score possible."  This year he and his team qualified for state for the third year in a row - and celebrated Montini Robotic's 2022 ranking as the highest among Illinois private schools.   Even prior to his co-salutatorian status, Joshua has truly made his mark on Montini Catholic.  He is looking forward to majoring in Computer Science this fall at Georgia Tech.

Sacred Heart School graduate, Sarah Ernat, was also among Montini's Placement test scholarship recipients in 2018.   She was also excited to hear her name announced along with Joshua's as co-salutatorian.  "My parents (Donald and Christine Ernat) were, in their words, pleasantly surprised and very proud - but, I'm still in shock," she said.  "I just never expected it."

Sarah, too, is a very involved Bronco dedicating her time to tend to her musical interests as a member of TrebleMakers and Chamber Choir music groups.  She is also a member of Montini's Tri-M (Music) Honor Society.  She has performed in every Montini theater production throughout her time at Montini and is a member of the International Thespian Society.  Academically she is a member of the National Honor Society, the French Club, French Honor Society (President), Math Team (who placed 6th in State this year) and Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society).  She is also a Peer Minister, which is Montini's faith-based ministry made up of student leaders.

Sarah was most recently named an Academic All Star and was also a recipient of the President's Education Award for Academic Excellence.  She is a National Merit Commended Scholar, an Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor and an Illinois State Scholar. She credits her parents for all of their support and encouragement. "Seeing my sibling succeed taught me the value of hard work and really inspired me!"  

Sarah will be attending the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and will be majoring in Animal Sciences. Sarah's favorite Montini memory will be her participation in the school's 2020 musical, "All Shook Up."  "It was such an incredible experience. I also have loved being a part of the Chamber Choir and getting to sing with my friends every morning!"

Both Joshua and Sarah will honored along with Class of 2022 valedictorian, Audrey Kekstadt on Sunday, May 22nd at Montini Catholic's 53rd Annual Graduation Ceremony.

"We are so proud of Joshua and Sarah," said President Jim Segredo. "They are both exemplary students - we can't wait to hear about all of their successes at Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois!  We wish them nothing but the best!" Images Attached: L to R:  Assistant Principal Sara Lhotka, Joshua Tolefree, Sarah Ernat and Principal Kevin Beirne

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