Top Guards – Kimberlee Van Dyke & Elijah Reed!

October 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Once again, it is time to acknowledge yet another pair of student/athletes here on the campus of Bellarmine-Jefferson high school.

These “Top Guards”, are the special young men and women who work hard on the court as well as in the classroom to maintain a high GPA while excelling as a high school athlete.

Our “Top Guard” honorees this quarter are, senior Kimberlee Van Dyke and sophomore Elijah Reed.

Kimberlee Van Dyke

If you think that your day is tough and plate is full, Senior Kimberlee Van Dyke’s plate is overflowing!

Kim has a passion for student council and has been involved in some way each of her 4 years at Bell-Jeff and is currently the ASB President.

Kim loves to test herself in the classroom and challenges herself with hard classes.

Her freshman and sophomore years, she took as many Honors classes as she could get.  For her junior year, added AP History and in her final year, is finishing up with AP English, Honors Econ, and Honors Pre-Cal all while carrying a 4.2 GPA.

Athletically, Kim is a standout 4 year Varsity player for the Lady Guards Volleyball team, a sport she has participated in for 9 years. You can also add Soccer and Track to the list of sports that she has competed in at some point during her athletic career at Bell-Jeff.

Kimberlee’s mother Ms. Carol Van Dyke, is in charge of attendance at Bell-Jeff and two of her daughters have already graduated from Bell-Jeff. Now Kim, who use to tag along and workout with her sisters while in middle school, is following in the footsteps of Julie, Gina and her cousin Ashley who all excelled on the court as well as in the classroom.

She credits her family with keeping her motivated and focused and strives to be the best person she can be. Kim also uses her love of Volleyball as motivation to stay focused in the classroom. Kim earned 2nd team All League honors in both her freshman and sophomore years and received 1st team All League honors in her junior year. She has also received the Coaches Award from Coach Miguel for 3 years straight.

Kim is looking forward to college and has aspirations of continuing her Volleyball career at UCLA or another one of the UC schools.

Good luck and continued success Kimberlee, you are proof that hard work truly pays off!


Elijah Reed

Sophomore Elijah Reed came to Bell-Jeff a little over a year ago from Thomas Star King Middle School Magnet where he was a straight A student.

Recognized as highly gifted in mathematics, Elijah graduated with academic honors and received the Presidents Award for Physical Fitness along with being voted the most athletic and fit student at King Middle School far exceeding the national minimum requirements set for middle school students.

Elijah has always enjoyed sports and played baseball as well as flag football, he also tried his hand at acting and was featured in a couple of music videos before falling in love with basketball at the age of 10.

Elijah began playing travel basketball in the 6th grade and eventually led the King Middle School “Lions” to a middle school championship and MVP honors plus, won the schools 3 on 3 competition his 8th grade year.

He also led his local park to their first District Championship in Boys Basketball.

When it came time to select a high school, his family chose Bell-Jeff because of it’s excellent academics and athletic opportunities. Elijah has thrived in the family oriented environment. He takes honors classes, maintaining a 3.6 GPA and received High Honors and Scholar/Athlete recognition for his freshman year.

Athletically, Elijah made his presence making the JV basketball team where his leadership and work ethic helped earned him team MVP honors. He also played JV football and received the Coaches award and was the Santa Fe League JV Champion in the long jump.

Known as one of the hardest workers on the team, Elijah begins this, his sophomore year as a starting cornerback for Bell-Jeff’s Varsity football team this year and will also play Varsity basketball as well as run track.

Elijah and Actor Dick Van Dyke

Elijah Reed & Actor Dick Van Dyke advocate for the Midnight Mission on skid row in downtown LA

On campus, Elijah is well liked, makes friends easy and according to his teachers, a joy to have in class. He is also an avid reader and tutor’s fellow classmates in Algebra 2.

He also enjoys giving back and along with his mother Jacquelyn Hall-Reed, started an organization called “Elijah’s Angels” that helps feed the homeless throughout the year.

Elijah’s organization has been approved for service hours so, any students interested in becoming one of “Elijah’s Angels” to help out this holiday season, please email your information to

Elijah’s goals for high school are simple. Get his GPA back up to a 4.0 or better and win a CIF Basketball Championship before he graduates.

Beyond that, he plans to attend a 4 year University and continue his basketball and/or football career at the college level and beyond.

Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far Elijah, continue to set your goals high and your hard work and dedication will make your dreams come true.

Story by Eric “Rico” Reed

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Top Guards – Rishonda Napier & Micah Shirley!

May 3, 2009 by · Comments Off on Top Guards – Rishonda Napier & Micah Shirley! 

Bell-Jeff “Top Guards”, are special young men and women who are able to maintain a high GPA while excelling as a high school athlete.

This time, our “Top Guards” rule the Basketball court and Football field, Rishonda Napier and Micah Shirley!

Rishonda Napier

Rishonda Janell Napier is in the honors program at Bell Jeff. 

Excelling in Math and Science, Rishonda is maintaining a 4.3 GPA  and holds the distinction of being is the only freshman taking Algebra 2.

Rishonda entered Bell Jeff from Jordan Middle School, where she was in GATE (gifted and talented education program).  While at Jordan, she was student body president, athletic director for ASB and also received the Jordan Middle School Athlete of the Year award for 2008.

Rishonda was the 2008 Magnolia Park Optimist Oratorical Contest winner and she also won first place in the 2008 Martin Luther King Essay Contest by Forest Lawn.

Rishonda - an episode on ER

Rishonda - an episode on ER

If you think her face is familiar, your right. Before focusing her attentions on basketball, Rishonda had tapped into the industry a few years ago.  This quick to smile former child/actor has a myriad of on screen credits including two guest star roles on ER, airing on NBC, a reoccurring role  on Malcolm in the Middle (Fox).  She also appeared in a film airing on HBO and Showtime, titled Gift for the Living. 

Rishonda began playing basketball in third grade, with Burbank Park and Recreation.  Over the past several years, she has played on AAU travel teams for Media City Tribe, GBL Lady Rebels, and SGV. 

During her career, she has received recognition as Offensive Player of the Year from Media City Tribe and the MVP award for the GBL Lady Rebels.  In 2005, her 10 year and under team (GBL) won the  national championship in Orlando Florida as well as the NJB National Championship in 2007.  She earned a third national championship title for 13 year and under, in 2008 with SGV in Norman Oklahoma.

As a Bell-Jeff freshman (or 9th grader as she prefers to be recalled), Rishonda’s basketball accomplishments include a Nike Tournament of Champions Gray Division championship, a CIF Div 5A Championship and the schools record breaking 34-1 season which culminated with a first ever history making CIF Div 5 State Championship!

A self proclaimed “basketball junkie”, Rishonda can’t wait to get back in the gym with her teammates and prepare to make history again and repeat as CIF League and State Champions.

Rishonda’s 2008 – 2009 Honors

ALL CIF first team

ALL Santa Cruz League first team

All State Freshman Team

Burbank All Area first team

Named to the TOC NIKE All Tournament Team In Phoenix AZ in December 2008

She also participated in track and field and ran cross-country for Bell Jeff where she was named to the Santa Cruz All League first team and earned All CIF honors.

Rishonda is not the only Napier at Bell-Jeff, her brother junior Ryan Napier runs track and is also excelling in the classroom.

Congratulations Rishonda, you truly epitimize the term Student/Athlete!


Micah Shirley

Micah Shirley is a fifteen year old sophomore at Bell Jeff who is always challenging himself in the classroom, at home and in sports. 

Micah has attended private Catholic schools since preschool and was recently confirmed at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church. A devout follower towards his Catholic religion, Micah volunteers time at the church’s annual carnival, soup-line, car wash fundraiser, and food for the homeless.

As a Scholar Athlete, Micah is academically focused maintaining a 3.4 GPA with his sights set on UCLA or USC.

A standout player in two sports, Basketball and Football, Micah played safety and wide receiver, scoring 5 touchdowns and setting the school record for receiving yards, 1,002 yards on just 40 catches! 

For his accomplishments, he was voted Santa Fe League All-League First Offensive Team, named to Burbank’s All-Area 1st Team on Offense and honered as the Guard’s Offensive Player of the Year.

In Basketball, Micah was co-leading scorer with 10 points per game helping the Guards to a 16-12 season and named to the Santa Fe League All-League 2nd Team.

Micah is not the only athlete in the family, his brother Andrew Shirley, (freshman @ Cal State Dominguez) played basketball for the Guards, mother Rhonda Shirley completed the 2009 City of Angels Half Marathon and father Kirk Shirley was a standout football player for North Hollywood high school.

Story by: Eric “Rico” Reed

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Top Guards – Student/Athlete Spotlight!

December 19, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Bell-Jeff is known for their exceptional academics but, they boast a number of top athletes as well.

Through this a new segment, we will take time and get to know some of these “Top Guards”, young men and women who are somehow able to balance a high GPA with a successful career as a high school athlete.

Over the coming weeks, it is these, “Student/Athletes”, who we will be spotlighting here.

Our first pair of “Top Guards” come from the volleyball court and football field, Itria Licitra and Elliot Dennis!

Itria Licitra

IItria Licitra is enjoying her  Senior year at Bell-Jeff, unlike many other seniors across the nation, she is still carrying a big load.

While others fill their last days with, electives and easy classes, Itria is taking AP Calculus, AP English, Honors Government and Physics.  

Itria is looking towards college and beyond and with a 4.4 GPA, she’s certainly on her way. By taking these AP classes, she makes herself eligible to take an exam which, if passed, will allow her college credit for that subject.

As of last semester, she has already been recommended for college credit in History and working on more! 

Itria also finds time for sports and plays volleyball and softball for Bell-Jeff. 

She was voted First Team All League for the Santa Cruz League (Volleyball 2008) as well as MVP by her coach and was just one vote shy of League MVP honors. She was also named First Team All League for Softball in 2008 as well as Best Defensive Player.

Along with all that, She is Senior Class President and was just honored by the Noon Rotary Club of Burbank for Student of the Month. Girls Athletic Director Patti Bertole calls Itria Licitra “an Outstanding citizen, a delightful person and a fabulous representative of our school.”


Elliot Dennis

To learn Elliot Dennis’ story, you have to go to Oakland Calif. That’s where Elliot was born and attended school for most of his life.  It was also there he developed a love for football.

If you let Natalie Dennis (Elliot’s mom) tell it, “Elliot’s game is not football, but basketball,” a sport he played since he was a young kid. “Elliot played basketball on several local and travel teams with many of the top players in the area and made several All-Star teams!” But, when he enrolled at Saint Mary’s High School in the Bay area, Elliot felt that his 200lb/5’11” frame was better suited for the gridiron and went out for football instead. And play he did helping Saint Mary’s become one of the top teams in the region.

Fast forward to 2007. Though imposing in stature, Elliot is basically low key and quiet. He now sports dreads and bears a slight resembelance to another star high school football player from the bay area, Maurice Jones-Drew.  High energy on the field, his demeanor off the field is the complete opposite. Rather than hang out all the time, he prefers to put his spare time in the books because he to, has college asperations. So, Natalie began to search for a new school for her son. Elliot liked the Los Angeles area and had family here so, she decided to find a school out this way for him to attend. 

After several visits, they settled in on Bell-Jeff because of it’s, curriculum as well as it’s, “family environment.” Though he initially stayed with an uncle, Elliot eventually moved in with Kirk and Rhonda Shirley who’s son Micah is a sophomore at Bell-Jeff and brother Andrew (graduated 2008) his best friend last year.

According to head football coach Rolando Aguirre, “Elliot was a pleasant surprise when he arrived at Bell-Jeff” “Because he came mid-year, he only played one year for us. But, it was evident during passing league this past summer, that he was going to be a great addition to this program!”

Elliot played multiple positions including, safety, flanker and running back. Where he contributed the most, was on defense and earned Second Team All- Defense as an Outside linebacker for his efforts. Said Aguirre, “He gave us a lot and still has a lot more to give.” 

The Guards (8-4), made school history this season by defeating Fairmont Prep 28-21 to become the first team ever, to make it to the second round of the CIF playoffs!

Elliot Dennis also excelled in the classroom maintaining a high “B” average and being named one of Bell-Jeff’s “Scholar Athletes” this past grading period. He has set his sights on Southern University where he plans to continue his football career. Even though football is his new love, Elliot still finds time to play basketball and run track for the Guards as well.

Boys Athletic Director Bryan Camacho says, “Elliot brought a lot of confidence to this school, he’s a quiet leader and a great person with a good heart.” 

We salute Elliot Dennis along with Itria Licitra, true Student/Athletes in every since of the word!

Story by: Eric “Rico” Reed

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Spotlight On Student Athletes!

December 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Many of you may or may not know that, Bell-Jeff has a number of athletes that are excelling both on the field and in the classroom as well. 

According to Principal Sister Cheryl Milner, as of this last report card, Bell-Jeff has identified 46 “Scholar Athletes” in the various sport programs.  A “Scholar Athlete” is a student who maintains at least a 3.0 GPA while participating on a team. 

This is a new segment where we will get to know some of these, Student/Athletes and spotlight their accomplishments.

We ask that teachers submit the name and short summary of the “Student/Athlete” that you would like to nominate to

Thank you.


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