Chaminade College Preparatory’s West Hills campus was a little more crowded than usual this morning. Instead of the usual 1,200 high school students, there were 2,021 middle and high school students, gathered together to celebrate the school’s annual Founders Day Mass.
Main celebrant, Fr. Martin Solma, S.M., led the Mass and was joined by concelebrants, Fr. John-Paul Gonzalez ’97 of Christ the King (Hollywood), Fr. Jim Mueller, S.M. of Central Catholic High School (San Antonio, Texas), and Fr. Ted Ley, S.M. ’58. Together, the Chaminade family remembered Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and recognized four individuals for the contributions they have made to the school.
This year, Chaminade honored Nancy (Valtin) Leone ’86, Cynthia Snyder, David Poms, and Sandra Poms as founders. Nancy and Cynthia are both 25-year employees of the school, while David and Sandra are longtime benefactors and volunteers. Chaminade President, Rob Webb presented each founder with a medal at the end of Mass.
Founders Day also included a renewal of vows for the Marianist brothers and priests. Between them, Bro. Jack Dempsey, S.M.; Bro. David Betz, S.M.; Fr. Martin Solma, S.M.; Fr. Jim Mueller, S.M.; and Fr. Ted Ley, S.M. have 297 years of religious profession!
On February 4, 2017, Chaminade College Preparatory will host its first Alumni Hall of Fame and celebrate the achievements of Kate (Lospalluto) Beskid ’00; Meghan Hawthorne ’10; Conor McCullough ’09; Kevin Pillar ’07; and Captain Duncan Smith, USN ’76. Previously, alumni athletes and distinguished alumni were honored during two separate ceremonies. The new tradition combines both events and recognizes graduates for their professional achievements, dedication to the school, and service to the community.
After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2004, Kate Beskid ’00 returned to her alma mater as a 7th-grade religion teacher. For the last 13 years, she has served the Chaminade community in many ways—teaching, coaching cheer, working with Student Council, and much more. In 2009, Kate, along with Annette (Dietel) Damien ’01, founded the middle school’s SHINE program. She was the chair of the religion department for eight years and is currently Chatsworth’s director of campus ministry. Kate is part of the Marianist National Program and served as their regional coordinator for the Pacific for three years and works with the national LIFE program as well.
Meghan Hawthorne ’10 was a record-breaking swimmer for Chaminade. She won titles in the 100 butterfly (2010), 500-yard freestyle (2008), broke the CIF-SS D1 record for the 200 individual medley (2010), and was named L.A. Daily News Swimmer of the Year in 2008 and 2010. She was a two-time All-American Swimmer at the University of Southern California, and reached the Pac-12 Championships finals seven times. As a member of the USA Swimming National Team, she reached the final of the 400 IM during the 2012 Olympic Trials and earned a silver medal in the same event for the United States at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia. Meghan is retired from swimming and is in her second season as assistant swimming and diving coach for Boise State University.
By the time Conor McCullough graduated from Chaminade in 2009, he held five national hammer throwing records and a 2008 World Junior Championships silver medal. He continued his athletic career first at Princeton University, then at the University of Southern California. In 2010, he won the USATF Junior National competition and secured his first international gold medal at the World Junior Championships. While at USC, Conor won the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championship. He made his Team USA debut in 2015 and finished second at the USATF National Championship and earned a bronze medal in the hammer throw at the Pan-American Games. Conor represented Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was the highest ranking Team USA athlete for the hammer throw.
Kevin Pillar ’07 was played football, basketball, and baseball for Chaminade, and earned first-team All-CIF honors in each sport. He continued his baseball career at California State Dominguez Hills as an All-American center fielder. As a freshman, he had a .379 batting average and set the NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak in 2010. During the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Kevin, and he made his debut on August 14, 2013, against the Boston Red Sox. He was named the 2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year and was a Golden Glove finalist. In 2016, Kevin was again a Golden Glove finalist, received the Fielding Bible Award, and was nominated for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award.
Captain Duncan Smith, USN ’76 is a Navy SEAL and American hero. An involved student at Chaminade, he ran cross-country and track, played on the tennis team, took photos for the yearbook, competed in Speech and Debate, and served as senior class president. He graduated from the University of Southern California, and after a year of working and cycling in New Zealand, he worked as a stockbroker. Duncan later joined the Navy and became a Navy SEAL in 1986 with BUD/S Class 137. He served as an officer in Special Operations platoons at SEAL Teams One and Five before transitioning to the Navy Reserve while attending the Anderson School at UCLA. In September 2001, Duncan returned to active duty in Naval Special Warfare where he has served with distinction the last 16 years. Captain Smith’s military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Combat Action ribbon, and both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.
The 32nd Annual Golf Tournament was held at Woodland Hills Country Club on Monday, September 19. More than 100 golfers on 28 teams came out to support Chaminade College Preparatory and the school’s tuition assistance program.
They started out the day with breakfast, a putting contest, and perusing over two dozen prizes, including tickets to Disneyland, a spa day at Four Seasons Westlake Village, and signed items from Chaminade alumni athletes Logan Paulsen ’05, Kevin Pillar ’07, and Blake Rutherford ’16. Golfers took to the course at the 11:00 a.m. shotgun start, where they enjoyed BBQ lunches, contests, and beverage service provided by volunteers.
The day concluded with cocktail hour, a live auction, dinner, and awards. Current parent and tournament participant Ron Pivo served as Master of Ceremonies and auctioneer. Thank you to Todd Stevens and Family, Joe Heath and Family, and Drai’s Nightclub Las Vegas for making the live auction the highlight of the evening. After dinner, the tournament awards were announced with Andy Kawatra ’06, Glen Scher and Stuart Fagan taking First Place for the second year in a row.
This tournament was made possible by our event sponsors Community Bank, EPIC and Mike Lynn ’75, Gothic Landscape, Marie McDonough and Family, and Network AutoBody and the Fasone Family. Thank you to our tee sponsors and underwriters, especially to Joe Fabian and the Class of 1982 for sponsoring the beer, gift bag sponsor Great Scott Tree Service, and Tenuta Vineyards for providing tournament prizes.
Thank you to the 2016 Golf Committee (Joe Fabian ’82, Joe Heath, JM Kenny, Jennifer and Kevin Murkey ’94, Erin Sullivan, Tina Miller, Kyle Pearson ’11, and Leah Wagner) for helping plan this wonderful day and to all the amazing volunteers who kept things running smoothly.
Kevin Pillar ’07 in a March 2016 game (photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
Ever wonder if Apostolic Works stays with you once you graduate from Chaminade? The short answer is, “Yes!”
Alumni often reflect back on cherished Chaminade experiences when they meet President Rob Webb, and these stories more often than not include service projects and their impact. As Mr. Webb pointed out in the spring/summer issue of Chaminade Now, “Many alumni say they continue to seek out service opportunities well after they leave Chaminade because helping others continues to profoundly touch their lives.”
Kevin Pillar ’07 is one of those alumni. The Toronto Blue Jays’ center fielder was recently nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Pillar and his wife, Amanda are active with charitable organizations in Toronto. In addition, Pillar has set-up an MLB Action Team at Chaminade, which will help high school students to “plan and organize volunteer events in and around their schools.”
Conor McCullough ’09 competed in the Olympic Men’s Hammer Throw qualifications this morning and ranked 16th with a throw of 72.88m. He competed against 31 other Olympians, and is the highest ranking Team USA athlete for this event. A full replay of the event is available online. McCullough throws with Group B.