Mock Trial Competitions Carry on in a Virtual Courtroom

While many activities and events have been postponed this year, Chaminade High School Mock Trial has been hard at work, at least in the virtual courtroom. The program, which boasts three Los Angeles County championships (2015, 2016, 2018) and top-four finishes at state, has two teams competing this fall.

For the first time, Chaminade was selected to compete in the Empire Championship, a tournament that features the top mock trial programs from all over the United States and even a few international teams. Representing the Eagles are 14 seniors from the class of ’21, most of whom have been part of the program since their middle school days. The Empire case, People v. Wilder, is extremely challenging, featuring hundreds of pages of testimony and exhibits to prepare, so students started prepping in the summer. In this case, the defendant faces a mandatory life sentence required by the three-strikes law for an attempted burglary.

The Chaminade junior varsity team will represent Chaminade in the Los Angeles County competition beginning Monday, November 2. The team features 20 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who will present People v. Croddy. Lee Croddy, a celebrity activist YouTuber, is charged with aiding and abetting a burglary and accessory after one of their fans steals confidential documents from a government agent.

Like many real trials these days, both competitions will be held over Zoom, but Chaminade is more than up to the challenge. The teams have been coached virtually for the last three years by Jennifer and Bert Bader. After 11 years at Chaminade, the Baders moved to South Carolina. The virtual setup did not stop the team from success, though. In the first year of coaching the teams virtually, Chaminade won their third LA County Championship and made another appearance at the state championship in Sacramento. 

The teams are extremely grateful for the opportunity to compete this year and hope to add to Chaminade’s mock trial legacy, even if it’s over Zoom.

Chaminade Implements Safety Measures in Preparation for Students’ Return

In response to current guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), Chaminade’s Return-to-School Task Force has committed extensive resources to safeguard the health and safety of our students and employees when we are allowed to reopen for in-person instruction. Chaminade is committed to complying with all requirements of the DPH, as well as applicable and feasible recommendations.

Below is an overview of all we are doing to safely welcome back our students and employees. Be advised that the fluidity of the situation may result in revised state and local recommendations and protocols that can affect our planning at a moment’s notice. 

Compliance Oversight Task Force
The Compliance Oversight Task Force is coordinating all efforts to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 at Chaminade. It is responsible for adhering to all COVID-19 safety protocols issued by the county. It also advises and oversees the work of each campus’s own Compliance Task Force, which are responsible for establishing and enforcing campus-specific safety protocols, as well as educating students and employees.

School Exposure Management Plan
Each campus’s Compliance Task Force is responsible for monitoring on-site adherence to safety protocols, and responding to reported COVID-19 cases among students and/or employees by activating the School Exposure Management Plan.

Student and Employee Health Screening
All students and employees will be required to perform a COVID-19 health screening at home using the Ruvna Health application before arriving to campus each day. The at-home health screening will include:

  • A COVID-19 symptom check.
  • Questions to ensure that all students and employees entering campus are not manifesting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, either currently or within the past 24 hours.
  • Questions to ensure that all students and employees entering campus are not manifesting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, either currently or within the past 24 hours.
  • Manual temperature checks to ensure that all students and employees entering campus have a body temperature below 38° C or 100.4° F.

After completing the Ruvna Health screening, students and employees will immediately receive instructions as to whether or not to proceed to campus that day. If a student or employee is permitted to proceed to campus, they will receive a QR code to present at one of the campus entry points for clearance. Among those arriving to campus, random on-site temperature checks will be conducted by staff members using no-touch, hand-held thermometers. Randomly selected individuals who have temperatures greater than 38° (C) or 100.4° (F) will be sent home. If someone appears ill, their temperature will be checked at entry and/or during the day.

Face Coverings
All students and employees are mandated to wear a clean and proper cloth face covering or mask (“medical grade” masks are not required) upon entering campus and while on campus at all times, except while eating or drinking.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
All students and employees are asked to bring a spare mask each day in case something happens to the mask they wear upon arrival. Chaminade has also procured additional PPE: extra face coverings, masks, and shields; disposable gloves and gowns; no-touch, hand-held thermometers.

Physical Distance and Signage
A combination of signage, arrows, and other markings have been placed on doors, floors, walkways, stairways, and walls to signify the need to maintain six feet of physical distance. There is also signage to designate entrance and exit doors, one-way traffic patterns, and space to queue before entering a room or building.

Classroom Furniture
Classroom furniture is arranged to maintain at least six feet between the room’s occupants. In student and staff support spaces (i.e. library, counseling office, faculty lounge) communal, non-cleanable fabric furniture has been removed and replaced with student desks and chairs that are spaced out six feet apart.

Proper Hygiene
Sufficient amounts of ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% ethanol) has been procured and deployed throughout common spaces, classrooms, and offices. Freestanding units have been secured and will be placed in common spaces around the campuses.

Portable Handwashing Stations
Portable handwashing stations have been placed in strategic locations on the campuses to promote frequent handwashing while minimizing movement and relieving pressure on limited bathroom access.

Cleaning and Disinfecting
Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces occur several times a day using EPA-registered disinfectants approved for viral/bacterial pathogens.

Deep Cleaning Practices
Intensive deep cleaning will occur in spaces utilized by an individual who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Janitorial staff will use EPA-registered disinfectants approved for viral/bacterial pathogens.

Classroom Ventilation
The following changes to the operation and maintenance of our ventilation systems have been implemented:

  • Portable medical-grade HEPA/carbon air purifiers have been installed in all classrooms.
  • The outside air mixture in our systems has been increased to improve ventilation.
  • Existing system filters have been replaced with higher efficiency MERV 13 filters to provide enhanced filtration. MERV 13 filters are highly effective in lowering the concentration of airborne particulates.
  • Classroom windows and doors (where practical) will be opened to increase air circulation.

Food Services
The following measures are in place to maintain physical distance during school meals:

  • Campus food services have instituted a new “no-touch” food service system utilizing the online and mobile applications, MySchoolBucks and MealViewer. Students and faculty can preorder packaged meals ready for pick up at the beginning of lunch.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas will continue during lunchtime.
  • Staff members will be deployed during meals to monitor physical distancing.
  • Queues have been reimagined so that students will pick up food from one entrance. Markings on the floor will assure there is six feet between students in this line.

The cafeteria and outdoor eating areas have been redesigned to allow for a minimum of six feet between all tables and chairs. Extra outdoor seating has been made available.

Daily Bus Services
Mission School Transportation will health screen bus drivers each morning. Students will show their Ruvna Health QR code to their bus driver prior to boarding their morning bus. Additionally:

  • Students will be required to wear a face-covering during the entire bus ride.
  • Students will load the bus from back-to-front and depart the bus from front-to-back.
  • No more than one student will be assigned per bench seat.
  • While DPH guidelines allow one student at every bench seat, barring further developments Chaminade will keep one bench seat empty between each student.
  • Windows will be open when weather conditions permit.

Bus drivers will wipe down high-touch surfaces between multiple afternoon route runs, and buses will be sprayed back-to-front with disinfectant after the last morning and afternoon run.

We know that many challenges are ahead as we safely reopen our campuses when we are allowed to open for in-person instruction. However, through our faith in God and our willingness to collaborate together, we will emerge as a stronger Chaminade family as we focus our energies on providing the integral, quality education that is at the heart of our mission.

#ConnectedCampus

A Guide to a Family Instagram 

By Annette Damien, Middle School Social Media Instructor 

During this time of social distancing, social media has taken on a new level of importance for teens and adults alike. For some, the world of social media is daunting, while others struggle with an appropriate balance when it comes to recreational screen time. Our young people need guidance when it comes to navigating the vast landscape of social media platforms.

Primakov / Shutterstock.com

As we begin a new school year in distance learning, families may be hearing announcements from program directors at both the middle and high school levels, urging students and parents to follow our many social media accounts. But with our youngest Eagles at the middle school level (many not even eleven years old) who have not reached the recommended age for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok, how can our youngest students stay connected? My advice to parents, set up a family Instagram account. When creating an Instagram account for the family, parents can monitor privacy settings, determine which accounts are followed, and review comments being made. A family Instagram account will also allow parents and guardians an opportunity to:

  1. Set guidelines 
  2. Model behavior  
  3. Stay connected to the school community  

Whether a passive bystander or an avid contributor, our young people are using social media to reach out for connections in an isolating world.  

Parents may struggle with finding an approach to modeling social media habits with their teens. Creating a family Instagram, especially when used to follow school accounts, can help establish norms and create positive habits for social media use.  

In the 2018-19 school year, Chaminade hosted guest speaker, Joe Beckman, who, in his upcoming book, Just Look Up: Five Life-Saving Phrases Every Human Needs to Hear, explains his approach to modeling social media behavior with his children. According to Beckman, the first step is to create three non-negotiables. Rules that are “no matter what” guidelines. One example may be “No technology at the dinner table.” This rule applies to all members of the family, even the adults. A second suggested guideline is “No screens after 10 pm.” Whatever the non-negotiables your family may decide on, the importance is to take a no-exceptions approach, choose guidelines that promote a healthy balance of technology, and hold each other accountable. Not only does this practice prevent arguments, or at least lead to short-lived arguments (“Our hands are tied- it’s a non-negotiable!), but it establishes norms for the family that models habits for teens to apply later in life.  

Beckman also writes about the importance of creating connections with our youth, and meeting them where they are. Creating time and space to share passions with our teens allows for deeper connections within your own family and understanding how media impacts your teen. Perhaps your next family event could be selecting a favorite YouTube video to share, learning a trending dance, or creating a Minecraft together.  

In the fall of 2019, Chaminade welcomed Kim Karr, national guest speaker, educator, and founder of #icanhelp (I can help delete negativity). For more tips on how to take a “common-sense approach” to assist our young people in becoming digital citizens, parents and adults who work with youth can enroll in a free course (click here to register).  

Digital media, whether it is streaming shows, social media platforms, or virtual gaming, is not going away. Chastising media as evil or unnecessary prevents meaningful conversations regarding the benefits of connection, content creation, and networking.  

Once a family’s Instagram account is created, parents and students can decide on the appropriate amount of scrolling time to receive updates from campus accounts and other accounts. Selecting who to follow as a family also creates an opportunity for family discussion about appropriate content. What we follow and like says a lot about our family. Choose wisely.  

We hope you will join us as we strive to be a #connectedcampus. Please follow us on Instagram @chaminadeccp @nadesquad @nadepositivity @campusminnadems @clubnade @msprincipalccp

Health and Safety are Top Priority As Athletes Return to Campus for Summer Workouts.

By Tommy Smeltzer

Chaminade’s student-athletes have never been happier for those hot summer football workouts to be underway. After a lengthy prohibition of any athletic activity on campus, the CIF State office last week released guidelines for restarting athletic activities, and the Chaminade athletics department was ready for the green light. Coaches implemented optional summer training programs that allow students to prepare for the upcoming year of sports while employing all state, county, and local health and safety protocols. Social distancing is easily achieved on the Deep Blue C and on the adjacent baseball field as athletes spread out in smaller groups with plenty of space between them. The program is set up so that students remain with the same cohort in pods of 5-10 students to limit overall exposure. 

As students arrive, they are greeted in their cars to receive temperature checks at the main entrance and must answer screening questions before being allowed on campus. Gone are communal water stations, as students now must bring their own water bottles to practice and must keep any backpacks or equipment separated in an area to the side of the field. Masks are worn during stretching and non-exertion skill drills, but athletes are allowed to work without masks during high exertion drills as long as distances are maintained. Partner stretches, passing, and contact drills are not allowed in Phase I. 

“We are allowed to do about a third of what we would normally do,” said Coach Ed Croson, “But the important thing is that we are able to train individual skills and prepare our players for the rigor and collision that is unique to football, all while learning to comply with the guidelines.” The coach noted that this is a big adjustment for students, so we must reinforce the importance of taking safety protocols seriously, both on and off the field. While it is challenging to change habits, he assures us, “The kids are getting it down.” 

Back on the Deep Blue C, groans of exertion emanate from the drills amid the summer heat. However, it is clear by the smiles and laughter after practice that these students are thrilled to reclaim a piece of life before quarantine and declare, “Eagle football is back!”

A Message from Chaminade Administration

Dear Chaminade Family,

Like you, we have spent considerable time reflecting on the tragedy, uncertainty, and angst that has become our collective and current reality. The senseless killing of George Floyd and the protests that have followed illuminate the deep-seated problems in our country that have understandably evoked pain, fear, and anger, especially amongst people of color and the black community. This comes at a time when our country is already wrestling with a global pandemic which has caused uncertainty for many, including members of our own community.

These recent events highlight the incredible weight and pain of racism that is an enduring reality for many members of our Chaminade family, including students, parents, employees, alumni, and parents of alumni. Sadness does not begin to describe the hurt we feel for you.

In the wake of our celebrations for the Class of 2020, we are especially mindful of the fact that we are sending students into a country that has not healed from the wounds of its past. Both parents and educators pride themselves on having the answers, keeping our children and students safe, and ensuring that they inherit a better world. Yet, we find ourselves in a reality that many of us are ill-equipped to explain to our children and students.

We write to convey a message of hope. And we write to reaffirm Chaminade’s commitment to our core values of inclusion, justice, peace, and service as we work to educate our students, engage our parents, care for our employees, and minister to our alumni and their families.

To our students, employees, and alumni of color, we reach out to reassure you that we are here to listen to and support you. To the parents of our students and alumni of color, we acknowledge the difficulties you face while preparing your children for the world that awaits, while simultaneously enduring these realities yourselves. Please know that the Chaminade family stands with you.

It is our obligation – as community members and as Catholics – to educate ourselves and our students about societal injustice. Faith-filled communities like ours are rooted in a shared respect for the dignity of all people; it is this belief that allows us to stand in solidarity with those who bear the historic and continued burdens of racism and inequality.

As educators, it is our responsibility to continue to educate our young people on the various ways injustice is manifested in our society. With the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and police violence on communities of color now at the forefront of our civil discourse, this role has never been more important.

While collaborating on this message, we received several letters from alumni and word of a petition circulating among members of our community respectfully insisting that Chaminade administration reevaluate curriculum to broaden the discussion of race and inequality. Receipt of these messages has been affirming because it demonstrates that our students and alumni have truly taken the Characteristics of Marianist Education to heart. Thank you for encouraging Chaminade to do better. Please know that you have been heard and work is being done to address your concerns. You may email us at administration@chaminade.org with additional concerns, specific ideas, and proposed solutions.

In the prophetic spirit of Mary, Mother of the Church, the Chaminade family works together as agents of change with the mission of witnessing the message of the Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). We continue this work in earnest, and hope to be a positive force for change that will benefit communities today and for generations to come.

If you need support during these difficult times, please email us at administration@chaminade.org. Your concerns will be directed to the appropriate resource, including campus ministry, counseling, or financial aid.

Finally, we offer this prayer of peace, may it inspire God’s protection of all involved in our national discourse, including protesters, community leaders, and first responders.

Father of Peace and Living Breath,
We come to you in hope
Asking for the touch of your healing hand
On our pained city and country
As again we confront the specter of racism and violence.

Give us your wisdom to build communities
Founded on the values of Jesus,
With respect for the life, dignity,
And equality of all people.

With the guidance and outpouring of your Holy Spirit,
Use us as the new peacemakers of our time,
To build a more just and respectful society
That ensures safety and equality for all.

Let us engage in new conversations
Listening with empathy and sensitivity,
Hearing each other’s aspirations
Respecting the voice of the other.

Through our Catholic, Marianist mission
Of service, justice, and peace,
Help us unite as one family
To be a voice for life and human dignity.

We stand in solidarity and pray
For all who feel the burden of inequality,
And for those who face the prospect
Of rebuilding lives and livelihoods.

We ask all this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen. 

Robert S. Webb P’18, P’20
President        

Mary Catherine Campbell P’13, P’15, P’18
Board Chair

Michael Valentine
Middle School Principal                       

Bro. Tom Fahy
High School Principal                          

Luis Guerra
Incoming High School Principal