On February 16 and 17, Fr. André Joseph Fétis, S.M., and Bro. Mike McAward, S.M., general administration of the Society of Mary in Rome, visited our middle and high school campuses. They met with students from our various leadership groups, took campus tours, and had the opportunity to experience our middle school Justice Fair and celebrate 100 days to graduation with our seniors.
Fr. André Joseph Fétis, S.M. is Blessed William Joseph Chaminade’s current successor, making him the fifteenth Superior General of the Society of Mary. He governs the Society of Mary worldwide. Fr. André is a classically trained musician and singer. He not only shares his birth country of France with Blessed Chaminade, but they were both born in Périgueux in Southwest France.
Bro. Mike McAward, S.M. serves as the General Assistant for Temporalities. He is responsible for the financial supervision of the several hundred “Marianist works” worldwide, including schools, retreat houses, parishes, and publishing houses. Bro. McAward attended Chaminade High School, Mineola, on Long Island. He also previously served as its principal.
Chaminade College Preparatory inducted four alumni into the Alumni Hall of Fame: Andrew Ellis ’07, Melissa Lewis ’02, Michael Rubino ’94, and Abigail Villena ’89. Family, friends, and alumni gathered to celebrate their achievements at The Tutor Family Center for the Performing Arts on the West Hills campus on Saturday, February 4. Over the years, Chaminade has recognized nearly 130 alumni for their professional achievements, dedication to the school, and service to the community.
Andrew Ellis graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 2007. While at Chaminade, he was involved in the Film program and was a Link leader. Andrew credits Chaminade with providing a spiritual and moral foundation for his work. In particular, Paula LaBrot was “the mother and mentor that instilled a sense of purpose and wonder in me,” Andrew says.
After graduation, Andrew attended NYU’s film school and graduated in 2011. Since then, he has traveled the world making films that insightfully capture the struggles and accomplishments of his varied subjects. He has spent the last 12 years creating documentaries for nongovernmental organizations and non-profits in Africa, the Middle East, and India. These included films on such subjects as Syrian refugee camps, slavery in Ghana, exploitive labor practices in India’s textile industry, and the experiences of American soldiers with PTSD. Andrew’s films have been featured at Sundance, SXSW, CNN, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and TIME Magazine. In 2016, while working as the Director of Photography at MediaStorm, he was named “Multimedia Photographer of the Year” by Pictures of the Year International.
Next to filmmaking, his biggest passion is teaching. You can find Andrew behind the scenes mentoring young filmmakers in most productions worldwide. He has also taught workshops at NYU, Vassar, and Columbia.
Andrew’s advice for current and future students: “Looking back on my time in high school, I am deeply aware that there are many things worth listening to. Even if you don’t always appreciate them, the religious teachings you receive at Chaminade can create a unique moral framework in our world. Give it some time, and you will appreciate it.”
Lieutenant Colonel Melissa Lewis graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 2002. While at Chaminade, she was a leader on Ambassadors, Link, and Student Council. In her senior year, Melissa was the Associated Student Body President.
The prominent faculty who impacted Melissa were Debbie (Berko) Jeffreys, Jennifer Poole, Ben LaBrot, and Bob Di Conti.
After Chaminade, Melissa attended the University of Puget Sound on an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as a Military Police Second Lieutenant after graduation (2006). She later attended Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, graduating with a master’s in 2016.
Melissa has deployed twice to Iraq and has completed missions in Turkey, Israel, Poland, Kosovo, and Bulgaria. During her time in Germany, she was awarded the MacArthur award for leadership. This award is given to individuals who demonstrate the ideals of “Duty, Honor, Country” and have proven a record of extraordinary performance, leadership, and achievement.
Currently, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis is assigned to the Pentagon. She works on the Joint Staff in Strategy, Plans, and Policy, focusing on how the Department of Defense can direct efforts and resources to humanitarian issues facing Ukraine. Her second responsibility is leading the Joint Staff’s Women, Peace, and Security team.
Melissa encourages current and future students to open themselves to new experiences and people. “Find a new buddy to work on a class project together, try a new club or activity, engage with others who think differently, and find the beauty in the diversity of others.”
Michael Rubino graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 1994. While at Chaminade, he was involved in band, choir, and drama. His best memories are from the times he spent with friends after school at rehearsals or performing. Faculty that significantly influenced him were Greg Klee, Paula LaBrot, Susanna Newkirk, Terry Cano, and John Fennell.
After Chaminade, Michael went to UCLA and majored in music composition. He also studied privately with industry greats. After college, Michael started his career as a music editor for FOX Family Channel. He later became active in writing music for film and TV.
You can hear his music in film trailers for movies such as “Frozen” and “Planes: Fire and Rescue,” television shows like “Survivor” and “Days of our Lives,” commercials for Toyota and Panasonic, or video games such as “Sports Champions” for PlayStation.
Michael’s most recent work was composing the score for Nickelodeon’s hit series “It’s Pony.” He is currently working on music for Disneyland’s newly remodeled Toon Town. He loves doing his take on classic Disney tunes and writing new music to create the Disney experience.
Michael’s advice for current and future Chaminade students is, “Whatever field you decide to study later on, everything you learn at Chaminade will be useful. Even though I am in music, I use what I learned in math, literature, history, and other classes regularly. Without the rounded learning I received, I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability.”
Abigail Villena graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory in 1989. During her time at Chaminade, she led the women’s tennis team to a CIF Championship in her senior year. Abigail was the number one singles player. She received All-Mission League, and All-CIF honors all four years while playing at Chaminade. She won the San Fernando Valley League’s MVP in 1988.She credits Father Allen DeLong, Brother Ed, and her tennis coach, Sue Lynn, for inspiring her in high school.
After graduation, Abigail received scholarships from Ohio State and UNLV. She chose to attend Ohio State and played all four years. She was All-Big 10 in her junior and senior years. She also received All-American Scholar-Athlete awards and Big 10 Academic Honors. Playing #1 singles and #1 doubles, Abigail earned a berth in the NCAA Championship in 1992. This accomplishment was a first in Buckeye history. After college, Abigail competed on the professional tour for three years before relocating to Southern California to become a tennis instructor.
Abigail’s philanthropic achievements include heading up H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everywhere) for the kid’s tennis program. This program allows underprivileged kids to earn a college education through tennis scholarships. She helps young teens focus on academics while teaching them the athletic skills they need to succeed in tennis. Abigail is a professional tennis instructor and head pro at the Billie Jean Tennis Center in Long Beach. She has been on the Wilson advisory staff for 25 years and is on the Tecnifibre Select Team.
She coaches a USTA women’s team, conducts various clinics for adults, and enjoys teaching young athletes to improve their game.
Abigail’s advice for current and future Chaminade students: “Make the most of your time at Chaminade, leaving it a better place than when you arrived. Inspire teammates, thank your teachers, and always do your best.”
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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
After a two-year hiatus, students, faculty, and staff from both Chaminade campuses gathered at the high school to celebrate the 32nd Annual Founders Day Mass on Thursday, March 24, 2022. Rev. Mike Chiuri, S.M., school chaplain, concelebrated Mass with Rev. Ted Ley, S.M. ’58, chaplain emeritus, and Rev. Tim Kenney, S.M., assistant Marianist provincial for religious life.
Founders Day remembers Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and his charism to be formed by Mary for the mission of Christ, and honors individuals who have made significant contributions to our school.
During Mass, President Robert S. Webb honored seven new Founders of Chaminade College Preparatory, who collectively represent over 170 years of service to the school. Ron ’79 and Kathy Prechtl were recognized for their years of generously supporting and serving Chaminade. Longtime employees Bo Anderson, Bryan Cantwell, Dorothy Kane, Agapito Valderrama, and Yvette Williamson were recognized for their 25+ years of service to Chaminade in various capacity.
Ron ’79 and Kathy Prechtl
Ron Prechtl graduated from Chaminade in 1979. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Northridge before enjoying a career in the real estate industry. He has served in various volunteer capacities at Chaminade, including as Chair of the Board of Directors, and Chair of the Advancement, Physical Facilities, and Property Management Committees. Ron was involved with the development and construction of the Tutor Family Center for the Performing Arts, and the recent acquisition of the shopping center on Saticoy. In 2012, he was named Chaminade Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
Kathy Prechtl graduated from Louisville and the University of San Francisco before becoming a registered nurse. She now helps oversee the day-to-day operations of the Prechtl family’s property management company.
In addition to Chaminade, Ron and Kathy support Catholic Charities of Ventura County and Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County. They have been married for nearly 32 years and are the parents of two Chaminade alumni (and USC alumni). Their son Andrew ’11 is a financial analyst for Simpatica, and daughter Kaitlin ’13 is attending USC Keck School of Medicine to become a physician assistant.
In 2019, Ron and Kathy purchased an avocado farm in Carpinteria. They also enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Bo Anderson was born in Philadelphia. She moved with her family to California, where she graduated from El Camino and Cal State Northridge.
She started at Chaminade in 1996 after her friend Betty Paravato, who worked in the Business Office, encouraged her to apply for an open position. Interested in working at a Catholic organization, Bo accepted the offer and has been serving Chaminade ever since. She says the school’s sense of community and her supportive colleagues make it a wonderful place to work!
As it grew over the years, Bo came to solely manage the financial aid program. The Director of Financial Aid, Bo loves being able to assist families in their desire to provide a Catholic education for their children.
Bo and her close-knit family are active members of St. Bernardine’s Parish. Her husband Kevin is an LAUSD teacher, and her daughter Kylie is a freshman at Chaminade. She also has two stepdaughters, Rachel and Leah. Bo enjoys spending time with her family and likes sports, especially baseball and softball. She and her husband have been to 28 of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.
Bryan Cantwell grew up in San Diego and came to Chaminade after graduating from Cal Lutheran in 1994. He started his career as a middle school PE teacher and high school boys’ basketball coach before creating the summer basketball camp program.
In 2000, Bryan moved to the high school campus, eventually becoming Dean of Students in 2007. Bryan also served as the middle school site director of the Center for Excellence. Since 2017, he has served as the high school Associate Athletic Director.
Bryan has coached various middle school sports, including volleyball, golf, football, and basketball. At the high school, he coached boys’ golf for many years, and currently is the varsity boys’ basketball coach. During his tenure at Chaminade, Bryan has coached 4 CIF championship teams – boys’ basketball in 1998, 1999, and 2021, and boys’ golf in 2010.
Bryan received his master’s degree in Catholic School Administration from Loyola Marymount in 2009. He is married to Beth Cantwell, who also teaches at Chaminade, and they have three sons: Kieran ’19, Caden ’22, and Kahlil ’26.
Dorothy Kane was born and raised in New York. She moved to California with her family when she was a senior in high school, but still considers herself an East Coaster.
Dorothy has been teaching for 38 years, from 4th graders to juniors in high school. She has served on the middle school faculty at Chaminade since her arrival in 1995, and is currently the Vice Principal for Academics and Parent and Faculty Concerns. For most of her career, Dorothy has taught middle school history. In 2006, her peers honored her with the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade Award.
In her free time, Dorothy likes to cook (not bake!), watch Masterpiece Theatre, and read mystery books. She also enjoys visiting lighthouses and antique stores with her husband of 32 years, Kevin, who is a teacher in the Las Virgenes Unified School District. Dorothy and Kevin have one son, Richard, who works in Chaminade’s middle school library.
Agapito Valderrama was born in Mexico and moved to California in 1985. He held various agricultural and horticultural positions, even working with Cesar Chavez, before coming to Chaminade in 1995. Agapito was encouraged to apply for a position in the Grounds Department by a family friend, Antonio Jauregui, who was honored at Chaminade’s Founders Day in 2016.
Agapito originally worked on the high school campus before moving to the middle school in 1998, where he was promoted to Grounds Supervisor. He says working at Chaminade is like being part of a family, and he enjoys the variety of each day.
Agapito and his wife Rosario have a son named David. In addition to keeping Chaminade’s middle school campus beautiful, Agapito is the owner of Rancho Nuevo Nursery in Moorpark, California.
Yvette Williamson grew up in Oakhurst, California and earned degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Grand Canyon University. She came to Chaminade in 1997 to teach World History and Economics at the high school. Yvette and her husband Andy, also a teacher at Chaminade, have three children: Kylee ’26, Cooper ’28, and future Eagle, Quinn.
To celebrate her 25 years at Chaminade, Yvette wanted her biography to focus on the impact Chaminade and its Family Spirit has had on her life. When Yvette came to Chaminade, she was excited to work alongside her sister, Denise Gunter. Seven years later, she met the love of her life in the Bob Hope Center, and was married to Andy Williamson by Chaminade chaplain, Fr. Edward Johnson, in a ceremony attended by over 30 colleagues.
Yvette is thankful for her colleagues, who act as family. Yvette had her three children while working at Chaminade, and two of her colleagues are their godparents. She has vacationed with her colleagues and been roommates with some of them. Several have become neighbors. She considers herself fortunate to have colleagues as part of the village helping her and Andy raise their children.
Yvette’s students also contribute to her sense of Family Spirit at Chaminade. She has taught more than 4,000 students, many of whom have become cherished colleagues, with some even coaching and teaching her own children. Hundreds have returned to share with her their accomplishments or introduce their families. Her students have taught her patience and empathy, and about integrity and strength. Yvette says her students have influenced the person she has become, and have made her a better teacher and parent. Blessed to have spent half her life at Chaminade, Yvette thanks our community for showing her the meaning of Family Spirit.