Top Guards – Student/Athlete Spotlight!

December 19, 2008 by  

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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One Response to “Top Guards – Student/Athlete Spotlight!”

  1. patty bertole on January 5th, 2009 2:09 pm

    Great Job! It looks and sounds fantastic. Thank you for your efforts.


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