The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

Ashley Hawkins

Salutatorian Catie Tassinari has always strongly valued time spent with her family, so she’s grateful that she’s going to be close by during her next four years at Oregon State University. “You’re still making your own way, but you’re close enough where you can go home if you need to,” she said.

Salutatorian Catie Tassinari

May 31, 2023

Though it wasn’t her intention, Catie Tassinari started the journey to becoming a salutatorian at a young age.

Growing up, she led a fruitful childhood alongside her two siblings, including her twin sister and older sister of three years, both of whom also attended La Salle. Together, they loved to explore different hobbies and interests, many of which stuck with Tassinari, contributing to the extensive list of extracurricular activities she maintains today. 

Much of Tassinari’s childhood was spent outdoors, which later led to her emergence into the athletic world. “We lived really close to my grandparents, so we were always taking a walk to their house or riding our bikes over there,” she said. That, combined with their large backyard suitable for outdoor activities, allowed Tassinari to be consistently active. 

By the time she reached high school, Tassinari had tried her hand at numerous sports. Some of the sports she participated in, such as ballet, swim, and tennis, were merely for recreational purposes, but others, like volleyball, she stuck with and played competitively throughout the majority of high school. 

Though she stopped playing volleyball junior year, she is still a multi-sport athlete as a senior, participating in both golf and cross country.

For Tassinari, cross country was a “one time thing,” as she only ran senior year, but she took an unexpected liking to golf after initially being required to play freshman year. “My parents always said that if we wanted to go to La Salle we had to do at least one year of golf … I just continued it,” Tassinari said.

Despite spending a significant amount of her childhood honing her athletic skills, Tassinari was also using this time to develop a love for academics, explore her creativity, and discover her passion in life. Though she didn’t know it at the time, the activities she was involved in as a child would later play a heavy role in shaping her future.

As a child, Tassinari loved to read, an activity that helped spark creativity and independence. Though she stated that it has been “a little bit harder to find time for [reading] in high school,” her creativity and independence have not faded over the years; in fact, those skills helped her discover her passion in life. 

In eighth grade, Tassinari participated in an independent learning project in which students had to research a topic and present their findings to the class. For her topic of focus, she chose geology.

“We had just had a science unit on volcanoes, and I was really interested in it,” she said. “I was looking for a mentor that could help teach me anything about that, and I found this lady that worked at an OMSI exhibit.” 

As it turned out, the woman was a geologist for USGS, a United States government agency specializing in geology and other sciences. Wanting to provide Tassinari with a hands-on experience, she brought her to the observatory, and Tassinari was fascinated. “I’ve been on the same path since then,” she said. 

Now, geology is one of Tassinari’s favorite subjects in school, and she plans to major in it at Oregon State University and eventually work on a field study of volcanoes.

But it’s not just geology that Tassinari has been focused on these past four years. Upon arriving at La Salle, Tassinari has taken interest in many different activities and subjects, ranging from rigorous classes to fun enterprises. 

Currently, she is the Co-president of the Asian American and Pacific Islander club, along with fellow seniors Raphael de Leon and Madeline Obuchowski. Their goal was to expand the club by meeting more often as an affinity group, which proved to be a bit more difficult than they thought.

“We’ve had a really hard time finding a moderator,” Tassinari said. “We’ve just been trying to plan new activities and keep the club going.” 

In addition to being a Co-president of the AAPI Club, Tassinari is the Student Body Vice President. Previously serving as the Officer of Community, she has lots of experience in Leadership and has enjoyed taking on a larger role this year under Leadership teacher Ms. Adriana Noesi and Director of Equity and Inclusion Ms. Kiah Mounsey’s guidance. 

“I kind of bounce around to different groups, seeing who needs help,” she said. “I worked on the Better Together fundraiser, [and] I’ve worked on dances and assemblies.” 

Tassinari’s main inspiration to run for vice president came from former council members Dakota Canzano and Amanda Rivera. “They were both really involved in [the] student council… they made so many new relationships and connections,” she said. “I was like, ‘I want to do what they’re doing. I hope I can be like them.’”

Besides her leadership positions, Tassinari’s list of extracurricular activities also includes working as a barista for Starbucks and participating in both Earth Club and Service Club. 

As for academics, her course load is heavy. This year some of her most challenging classes include AP Government, AP Statistics, AP Spanish V, and AP English, all of which require a considerable amount of work to keep up in. 

“I don’t regret it, but there’s just so much homework,” she said. “It can get overwhelming.” 

Despite a packed schedule, Tassinari consistently goes the extra mile with her schoolwork. For example, she completed the Spanish IV curriculum over the summer in order to jump ahead, as she felt it would be more beneficial. “It’s much more learning about the culture, and very conversational, which I think has helped me improve my Spanish more so than any other year,” she said. 

As Tassinari was merely working to improve her own skills and challenge herself academically throughout this time, she was shocked upon learning she received the title of salutatorian. In fact, when she was called down to the office to receive her award, she initially thought she was in trouble. 

“I definitely did not think I was going to get it,” she said. “There’s so many really smart people in our class.” 

While Tassinari is excited about the achievement, she in no way wishes to downplay the sacrifices it has taken to reach the position she’s in — balancing sports, work, academics, and clubs while still achieving outstanding grades has been no cake walk by any means. 

“I think I had a misconception when I came into high school seeing all these people graduate with a bunch of awards, like ‘Oh that’s so easy, they just did it because they’re really smart,’” she said. “I don’t want to glamorize what it took to get to the end because it was really hard.” 

That being said, Tassinari does not regret challenging herself and pushing her limits.

“I do think it was worth it, even if it was really difficult,” she said. “I feel prepared for college now. I know how to study, and I know how to budget my time.” 

In addition, Tassinari has grown more confident in her work, and no longer feels as much desire to achieve perfection in everything she does. “I remember freshman year I could not turn in an assignment without calling my friend and being like … ‘I don’t know if I did it right,’” she said. “This year … I don’t have to check in with people before I turn in projects or assignments.” 

Her advice to those who are looking to pursue a similar path and finish strong in high school is to surround themselves with a support system. “I know that I have so many teachers and staff and friends and family that I can lean on,” she said. “It really helps me.” 

Looking ahead, Tassinari is excited to see where the next four years at Oregon State will take her.

“I know that there’s definitely going to be challenges that I’m not expecting,” she said. “I’m excited to see how that goes.”

Leave a Comment
About the Writer
Photo of Seychelle Marks-Bienen
Seychelle Marks-Bienen, Editor

Senior Seychelle Marks-Bienen was born in Missoula, Montana, but moved to Southeast Portland at the age of two. She is a member of the girls varsity soccer...

Comments (0)

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think about this story by submitting a comment below. We welcome respectful comments that engage in conversations.

Comments are moderated, and won't appear until they are approved. An email address is required, but won't be publicly displayed. The Falconer's complete comment policy can be viewed on our policies page.
All The La Salle Falconer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *