Chaminade Celebrates the 33rd Annual Founders Day Mass

Amid celebration of the 70th anniversary of Chaminade College Preparatory, students, faculty, and staff from both campuses, as well as other distinguished guests, gathered at the high school to celebrate the 33rd Annual Founders Day Mass on Thursday, January 26, 2023.  The celebrant was Fr. John Thompson, SM. Fr. John is vice president for mission at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and serves on Chaminade’s Board of Directors. He was joined by school Chaplain Fr. Mike Chiuri, SM.

Founders Day remembers Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and his charism to be formed by Mary for the mission of Christ. It also honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Chaminade.

During Mass, President Robert S. Webb name five Founders of Chaminade College Preparatory, who collectively represent 145 years of service to the school. Longtime faculty members Michael Buck, Lisa Highley Magorien, Jennifer Poole, and Lee Thorneycroft were honored for their 25 years of service to Chaminade. Middle School Principal Michael Valentine was honored for his 45 years of service. Twelfth District Councilmember John Lee presented Mr. Valentine with a special recognition from the City of Los Angeles in honor of his long tenure at Chaminade.

Michael Buck

Michael Buck joined the high school faculty in 1996. At the time, he was 22 years old and had recently earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Virginia. After five years at Chaminade, Michael left to study for his master’s degree in physics at UCLA before returning two years later.

During his tenure at Chaminade, Michael has taught a variety of math, science, and computer science courses. He has served as chairperson of the science department and coached cross country and track. Among Michael’s fond Chaminade memories are the summers he spent hiking with his colleague Steve Mussack and the High Sierra Club, and watching his daughter Claire ’21 attend and graduate from the middle school and high school.

Lisa Magorien

Lisa Magorien joined the high school faculty in 1988 to teach biology and physical education and coach girls varsity basketball. At the time, she was 23 years old and had recently moved to California from Montgomery, Alabama, where she earned a volleyball scholarship to college after being a three-sport athlete in high school.

Lisa taught at Chaminade for 12 years and became the dean of students. After earning a master’s degree, Lisa left Chaminade to work for the Conejo Valley Unified School District. She returned to Chaminade in 2010 as the vice principal of student support.

Lisa feels blessed to be a member of the Chaminade community, where she has met some of her closest friends. She is thankful for the love and support of her family, including parents Mont and Gail Highley; siblings Leigh Ann Brooks and Mont Highley IV; husband Doug Magorien; sons Taylor, Travis, Colby, and Troy; grandchildren Kennedy, Brady, Teigen, and Baker.

Jenn Poole with daughter Gracie

Jennifer Poole grew up in Pacific Palisades, California and graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 1991. Soon after college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to teach English, and it was there she discovered her vocation as a teacher. After earning a master’s degree in English literature from LMU, Jenn joined the high school faculty to teach English at Chaminade.

Jenn served as chairperson of the English department for 14 years before becoming vice principal of instruction in 2012 and vice principal of academics in 2020. In those years, Jenn earned a second master’s degree in child and adolescent literacy, and a certification in Catholic educational leadership, both from LMU.

Catholic education has been fundamental to Jenn’s growth as a person and a teacher, and the Characteristics of Marianist Education continually inspire her work at Chaminade. The vocation Jenn discovered all those years ago is powerfully supported by the CMEs, which Jenn believes are an invitation to serve the larger world by first serving the students in front of her. She strives to recognize each student’s uniqueness, to listen to what they have to say, and to champion their dreams. In the process, Jenn’s students have always been her greatest teachers – she constantly learns from their questions and ideas, their empathy and joy. Every day her students make her a better person and educator.

Across her 25-year tenure, Jenn has found in Chaminade a cherished community of colleagues who are now like family to her. They are sources of wisdom and inspiration, comfort and compassion. With their support, Jenn has navigated some of life’s most challenging times and celebrated some of its most wonderful moments. Without fail, Jenn’s colleagues exemplify the meaning of Family Spirit by modeling abiding love and presence, two traits that have been instrumental for her as a parent raising her daughter Gracie ’17. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts of Jenn’s life is that Gracie grew up in the love of the Chaminade community, attending both the middle school and the high school, and feels that she has a family here as well.

Chaminade is so deeply rooted in Jenn’s life that she finds it hard to remember a time when blue and orange weren’t her favorite colors. As she celebrates 25 years in this remarkable school, Jenn feels abundant gratitude for being able to do what she loves in a place that has given so much to her life.

Lee Thorneycroft

Lee Thorneycroft was born in Malaysia and grew up in Australia. Her parents were both teachers. Lee attended Catholic schools in Australia and graduated from the Australian Catholic University with a teaching diploma and bachelor’s degree in education. She later earned a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University. Lee began her career in education at a Catholic elementary school in Australia where she taught 5th and 6th grade and coached netball.

Upon arriving in the United States, Lee worked as an outdoor education instructor at Camp Marston in Julian, California. She went on to become program director and camp manager at Teresita Pines, Lions Wilderness Camp, formerly owned and operated by the Catholic Daughters of America.

Lee came to Chaminade in 1998 to teach 8th-grade religion. She also taught a variety of middle school science courses and currently teaches physical education. During her 25 years at Chaminade, Lee has enjoyed coaching girls and boys volleyball and soccer, as well as teaching during the summer through the Center for Excellence.

Chaminade is more than just a job for Lee, it is a home away from home. The school’s sense of Family Spirit makes for a positive environment that welcomes students and employees from diverse cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Lee enjoys working with her students to develop an inclusive outdoor PE classroom that emphasizes positive attitude, acceptance, respect, and support. She is grateful to the Chaminade community for serving as a second family and helping her to learn and grow as a teacher who leads by example.

Pictured left to right: Robert Webb, Mike Valentine, 12th District Councilmember John Lee

Mike Valentine began his career in education in 1972 as a senior in high school, when he became the afterschool coach at his parish St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks. While attending Moorpark College, Mike taught physical education and coached at St. Paschal. In 1976 he graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in English and returned to St. Paschal to teach 7th grade.

Mike also coached boys basketball at St. Paschal and his team won the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) title in 1978. Through this accomplishment, Mike coached the CYO all-star team with Joe Rauser, who served Chaminade for 50 years before his retirement in 2015. Mr. Rauser, along with Joe Fabian ’82, alumni hall of fame inductee and former chair of the board of directors, convinced Mike to apply for an open position at Chaminade.

Mike began his career at Chaminade in 1978 when he was hired to teach 8th-grade religion and 9th-grade history and coach middle school boys basketball and high school girls varsity softball. In 1980 Mike became the CYO coordinator, a position that morphed into athletic director, and helped grow Chaminade’s middle school sports program. Proud to have coached during each of his 45 years at Chaminade, his highlights include winning the CYO girls softball championship in 1982 and girls basketball championship in 1990. As athletic director, Mike was sometimes required to coach sports that were not his specialty. Coaching girls field hockey became his passion after he wrote a grant for equipment and launched the program in 2002. He is proud of its seven Delphic League championships and for introducing many young athletes to the sport.

While serving as athletic director, Mike started teaching courses in the English department and began working with 6th-grade students. This allowed Mike to welcome younger students to Chaminade and share its Marianist culture. During his time at Chaminade, Mike served as summer school director, club moderator, mentor teacher, and even helped paint the school one summer. In 2006 he became interim middle school principal and was named principal in 2007.

Mike is thankful to have had supportive bosses in President Emeritus James V. Adams and President Robert S. Webb. He credits his caring and collaborative colleagues, and inspiring and memorable students for his long tenure at Chaminade. Mike is blessed to serve at a Marianist school because educating in Family Spirit inspires his approach to teaching and coaching. As a coach and administrator, he has worked hard to select the right people and build team chemistry. Mike hopes that his legacy at Chaminade is a caring culture where each student feels known and loved, and each employee feels respected and valued. Mike will greatly miss Chaminade after he retires at the end of this school year, but he looks forward to spending more time with his wife Jeanne, sons Kristopher and Ryan, and cat Bingley. He hopes to travel, go on long hikes, and enjoy life in Palm Springs.

Chaminade Filmmakers Celebrated at Calabasas Film Festival

Chaminade filmmakers were celebrated on September 25 at the Calabasas Film Festival, taking home two awards at the Student Film screening. CURVEBALL won for Best Ensemble, and Passion Washington won Best Writing for ON IN FIVE. “It feels good knowing that a film I made is able to be selected for a festival,” says Passion. “I think it’s an uplifting story. The theme is to never give up and never stop trying and that resonates with people.” This is Passion’s second year in a row winning at the Calabasas Film Festival — last year, she took home the award for Best Editing.

The Calabasas Film Festival showcases major film premieres, student films, documentaries, and top-quality film selections from all genres.

Luke Rawnskey ’24, Nathan Michael ’24, and Passion Washington ’23 attended the festival with their families and film teacher, Ms. Karen Ann Thumm. “We are so proud of our Chaminade filmmakers!” says Ms. Thumm. “Their films looked great on the big screen!”

The following Chaminade films were selected for the Calabasas Film Festival, which was held September 21-25. You can watch all these plus more on the Chaminade Studios YouTube channel.

  • ON IN FIVE, Created by Abby Lopez, Passion Washington, Miles Morewitz, Nathan Michael, and Lorenzo Ghaffari with Sophia Nations
  • CURVEBALL, Created by Charlee Friedman, Abby Lopez, Chapin Reece, Branden Hollenstein-Davis, and Christopher Fase
  • HOW I SEE YOU AGAIN, Created by Cici Fang
  • HUNDRED BUCKS, Created by Roman Daponde, Hogan Henze, Bradley Rosenthal, Xian Dean, and Jack Quirk
  • MONITORED, Created by Drew Duncan, Lola Marks, Kiera Durand, Grace Rissolo, Natalie Djie, and Luke Rawnsley
  • WANTED, Created by Passion Washington, Mia Elizondo, Nick Cuevas, Chapin Reece, Gio Gonzalez, and Michael Carpenter
  • YOUR LITTLE GIRL, Created by Hannah Sperling

Chaminade Honors 13 Families with Family of Mary Award

For the past 30 years, during the Baccalaureate Mass, Chaminade has upheld the tradition of presenting a special award to Chaminade families who have made a long-standing commitment by sending three or more children to Chaminade throughout their tenure.

In the spirit of Mary, Chaminade strives to create a community that is truly a family, consisting of students, faculty, staff, and parents. There is no greater trust on the part of parents than to place their children in the hands of our school community.

On May 27, 2022, we proudly recognized 13 families with The Family of Mary Award, marking their exceptional involvement at Chaminade. Congratulations to the 2022 Family of Mary Award recipients:

  • Mr. Brian and Mrs. Kristi Balleweg
    Montgomery ’17, Mackinnley ’19, Maguire ’22
  • Mr. Blake Brown ’84 and Mrs. Maryann Gallagher-Brown
    Brendan ’17, Daniel ’19, Blake ’22
  • Mr. Jason and Mrs. Jeannette Crawshaw
    Eric ’15, John ’22, Victor ’22
  • Mr. Pat Davoren and Mrs. Mary Pat Hurdle Davoren ’83
    Scott ’09, Brianna ’11, Sean ’15, Katie ’16, Tim ’19, Peyton ’22
  • Ms. Laura Espinoza
    Cameron ’10, Ariana ’19, Corina ’22
  • Mr. Rudy and Mrs. Maria Garcia
    Christian ’17, Joshua ’18, Zachary ’20, Jacob ’22
  • Mr. Joel and Mrs. Jennifer Manlucu
    Patricia ’14, Paolo ’16, Pauline ’22
  • Dr. Ashraf Nashed and Ms. Dina Bedwani
    Natalie ’18, Nicole ’20, Noelle ’22
  • Mr. Bud and Mrs. Christina Nations
    Katherine ’15, Daniel ’18, Sophia ’22
  • Dr. Ayman Nouneh and Ms. Liana Alturk
    Kevin ’19, Mary ’21, Christopher ’22
  • Dr. Emmanuel and Dr. Melizza Pacia
    Aimee ’15, Francis ’21, Angelo ’22
  • Mr. Randall Stern and Ms. Thea Pizziano-Carlo
    Aidan ’22, Giovanni ’22, Ramsey ’22
  • Mr. Daniel and Mrs. Traci Zvonicek
    Emma ’18, Lola ’20, Jack ’22

Middle School teacher Walt Stewart recognized as Athletic Director/Sports Coach of the Year. 

On Thursday, May 19, Chaminade’s middle school athletic director and coach, Walt Stewart, was recognized with the Athletic Director/Sports Coach of the Year award by The Chatsworth-Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce at the 18th Annual Unforgettable Educator Awards Gala. Each year, The Chatsworth-Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce honors and acknowledges those educators who make a lasting impact on students’ lives and schools in our community. 

He is recognized for his dedication to the students and the Chaminade community. He is always the first one on the field and the last to leave. He is known for his motivational speeches that resonate with students and teaches them life lessons by making them responsible, holding them accountable, and teaching them to work toward a goal as a team. 

 “That is the best thing to see as a parent,” says a current middle school parent, “someone who is dedicated and wants my child to succeed not only in sports but as a person.” 

Walt has been teaching for 28 years. He joined the Chaminade family in 2007, and serves as the athletic director, teaches physical education, and coaches track and field and football. Walt is also president of the Junior High Delphic League, a middle school athletic league featuring twenty-five private middle schools in the Los Angeles area. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, a Professional Clear Single Subject Credential in Physical Education, and a Supplementary Credential in Geo-Science.

” I love coaching,” says Walt, which, as he notes, has been especially important following a school year at home due to the pandemic. “I find it rewarding to teach our student-athletes sports skills, strategies, teamwork, and sportsmanship and see them improve on these skills during practices and competitions.”

Walt is married to Jill Stewart, who teaches at Chaminade’s high school in West Hills. Together, they have three Chaminade alumni, Nicholas ’17, Mathew ’19, and Jessica ’21.

Chaminade Celebrates Volunteers at the Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception. 

Chaminade as a community has emerged from the pandemic stronger and closer. This year, we were thrilled to gather in person to celebrate volunteerism, connectedness to our mission, and the love for our students.

Volunteers are an essential part of Chaminade’s operations and are instrumental to the success of many of our programs and events. Our volunteers do it all, from large and exciting events like EagleFest to the smaller, less glamorous envelope-stuffing parties. They truly demonstrate the Marianist tradition of family spirit through their selfless giving of time and talent. 

On May 11, Chaminade recognized nine extraordinary volunteers who have their last child graduating from high school. Their commitment to Chaminade over the previous four to seven years has had an astounding effect on our school. Congratulations to our 2022 Spotlight on Service honorees:

• Fernando and Nicole Cabaccang P’22
• Dave Dumas P’19, ’22
• Charisse Enrique P’20, ’22
• Adam and Karen Friedman P ’20, ’22
• Guillermo Herrera P’20 , ’22
• Traci Zvonicek P’18,’20, ’22
• Heidi Oney P’20, ’22

In addition to honoring our fantastic parent volunteers, Chaminade also paid tribute to two Board members who are terming off the board at the end of the month. Chaminade expressed its sincere gratitude to Mary Campbell P’13,15,18, and Jeannette Crawshaw P’15, ’22, ’22. For the last six years, they have volunteered their time and invaluable expertise to help ensure that our school upholds our Catholic, Marianist mission.

Consider joining the ranks of our volunteers; you will find that it is one of the best experiences. And along the way, you will forge new and long-lasting friendships. Join us on August 23 and 25 for our volunteer mixers to find your perfect volunteer opportunity and join the ranks of this fantastic group.