Posted on May 6, 2021 · Posted in Academic News, General, News, Press Release


BURBANK, IL – St. Laurence High School announced that 13 seniors have been recognized as Illinois State Scholars by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. As such, St. Laurence has one of the highest percentages of Illinois State Scholars among Catholic high schools in the Southland.

Jeremy Carroll (Century Jr. High, Orland Park), Edward Clark (St. Linus, Oak Lawn), Daniel Diaz (St. Mary Star of the Sea, Chicago), Jason Dornbos (St. Patricia, Willow Springs), Brian Flores (Dore, Chicago), Calvin Friend (LJ Hauser Jr. High, Riverside), James Gurgone (Martino Jr. High, New Lenox), Jacob Laboy (Mark Twain, Chicago), Frank Lang (St. Mary of Riverside, Berwyn), Edward Martin (St. Catherine of Alexandria, Chicago), William Neale (Finley Jr. High, Chicago Ridge), Riley Stone (Everest Academy, Lemont) and Brian Wierzgac (St. Linus, Oak Lawn) all received the prestigious recognition. The students are part of St. Laurence’s Class of 2021, which will be the last all-boys class in school history.

Illinois State Scholars represent approximately the top ten percent of high school seniors from 726 high schools across the state. Students given this recognition possess strong academic potential and are chosen based on a combination of exemplary ACT or SAT test scores and sixth semester class rank.

This year’s class of Illinois State Scholars at St. Laurence is representative of the school’s expanded recruiting efforts across the Chicagoland area. The students come from all across the Chicagoland area, as far north as Riverside, as far south as New Lenox, as far west as Lemont and as far east as the Mount Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago.

“We are so proud of these young men for their hard work that led to earning the title of Illinois State Scholar,” said St. Laurence Principal Kristy Kane. “They are representative of the incredible academic success we have experienced in recent years, and we look forward to continued growth in the future.”

St. Laurence implemented a project-based STEM curriculum eight years ago which has reaped benefits for students, resulting in students getting admitted into better colleges, scoring higher on standardized test scores and earning more college scholarship dollars. The Class of 2021 Illinois State Scholars specifically averaged over an eight point increase in national percentile on standardized tests from freshmen year to the ACT.

On top of a revamped project-based curriculum, St. Laurence students benefited from a full synchronous eLearning platform that was rolled out immediately at the onset of the pandemic last year, which received recognition from local television and radio news. Additionally, St. Laurence rolled out a hybrid learning model in the fall and safely transitioned to full in-person instruction.

“These accolades are outstanding not only for our State Scholars, but for our entire school community,” said St. Laurence President Joseph Martinez. “Our teachers have worked incredibly hard to bring this dynamic curriculum to life and provide our students an unparalleled learning experience.”