Jonathan LeSuer is a valued member of his school, church and community — and now the rest of the United States knows about him as well.
Jonathan, a freshman at Elmira Notre Dame High School, was among 12 Catholic high-school students whose photographs landed on the cover of Catholic Digest magazine’s January edition. They were profiled in a story, “America’s Top Young Leaders: 12 Reasons to Feel Confident about the Church’s Future.”
Schools in select dioceses were asked to nominate students for this initiative, which sought to promote Catholic schools by highlighting Catholic leaders of the future. Jonathan was one of three youths named from New York state; the others came from Illinois, Florida, Minnesota and California. All 12 selectees were presented with Catholic Digest Leadership Awards and $500 scholarships.
“(Contest organizers) were looking for someone who was active, helped at school a lot, got good grades, was loyal and respectful, went to church,” Jonathan noted.
Jonathan fills the bill pretty nicely on all those counts. He belongs to Notre Dame’s Key Club, a student-service organization. He also plays tenor saxophone in the school band. In athletics, Jonathan competed on Notre Dame’s junior-varsity soccer team this past fall, and on varsity tennis last spring while still an eighth-grader. He had a 93 average at Holy Family Junior High School.
Jonathan, who turned 15 years old on Jan. 29, is the son of Peggy Johnson. He is an altar server and occasional choir member in the St. Anthony/St. Patrick/Ss. Peter and Paul cluster. He attended Holy Family primary, intermediate and junior-high schools before beginning at Notre Dame this past fall.
“It is students like Jonathan who make our job as educators a genuine joy,” Carole Morrell, Jonathan’s guidance counselor at Notre Dame, wrote in his profile that appeared in Catholic Digest.
Jonathan said he had been informed near the end of eighth grade by Elizabeth Berliner, principal of Holy Family Junior High, that she was nominating him to the magazine. Then he found out at graduation time that he had been selected.
“I was very surprised that I won. I was happy and surprised,” he said.
The Catholic Digest award was done in conjunction with QSP/Reader’s Digest, a youth fundraising organization. Catholic Digest is America’s largest paid-circulation Catholic magazine, with a monthly circulation of approximately 400,000. By being among the 12 students receiving prime recognition, Jonathan said he’s been told by Notre Dame faculty that “I made the school famous, in a way.”
The national publicity is welcomed by Sean Lukasik, the school’s public-relations director. Lukasik observed that many members of Notre Dame’s student body have traits similar to Jonathan.
“Our students do daily things that are really pretty extraordinary, but a lot of times they don’t get the recognition they deserve. So it’s great we were able to have one of the students get that kind of recognition,” Lukasik said.
Jonathan has enjoyed his honor by going to dinner with his family, and receiving compliments from teachers and friends.
“It’s a happy year so far,” he remarked.
Jonathan said he hopes to someday pursue medicine or teaching for a career. Yet one thing he won’t become is a braggart, despite his new celebrity status.
“I just look forward to getting good grades, meeting new friends. I’m someone who enjoys life and likes a big challenge,” he said.