Playtime, Downtime, and Family Time

By Kathryn Howard, LMFT, PPS, CWA
High School Therapist/counselor

The year is at a close and it is a time to reflect on the courageous students, teachers, and staff that have continued to work diligently to be educated and to educate. This year has brought so many emotions, so many feelings, and everything in between. We are incredibly proud of our students trying their best every day during this incredibly challenging time.

During the winter break, we hope your family gets some time to relax and enjoy celebrations that come with the season. Remember your PDF-Playtime, Downtime, and Family Time.

Here are some examples of PDF time as defined by our Challenge Success sponsors:

  • Playtime means unstructured time playing outside, games, and other activities for fun.
  • Downtime is time set aside beyond structured activities or academics to relax, reflect, or just be.
  • Family time creates a sense of connection and belonging. Try to incorporate 20-25 minutes a day, 5 days per week

While a break from the stress and routine of the semester can be good for many, winter can sometimes bring more sadness and isolation, especially during quarantine. Here are some resources in case you or someone you care about needs support.

Chaminade Founder and Marianist Educator Joseph A. Rauser dies at the age of 82

Joseph Rauser, former middle school teacher, died on December 11, 2020, at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife Shirley and four children Steven ’91, David ’94, Danielle ’96, and Michael ’98.

Joe was a fixture at Chaminade for 50 years until his retirement in 2015. According to Middle School Principal Mike Valentine, “Joe dedicated himself to Marianist education and, in particular, Chaminade Middle School. He loved teaching grammar, coaching cross-country, and doing acrobatics in the classroom. But more than anything else he loved being around the students of Chaminade. Joe brought great life and energy to every class he taught, and he most certainly did his share of inspiring students to love, learn, and lead.”

Joe was named a Founder of Chaminade College Preparatory in 2015, the same year the Middle School Library Commons was dedicated in his honor. Plans are in the works for a memorial service when we are able to safely gather as a school community.

The following article was originally printed in Chaminade Now, summer 2015

Joseph Rauser began his amazing career at Chaminade in 1963. At the time he was known as Bro. Rauser, having gone through the Marianist Novitiate with Fr. Ted and Bro. Skip in 1958. He was a Marianist through and through, as he was a proud graduate of two Society of Mary institutions, Serra High School in Gardena and Chaminade University in Hawaii. After making the difficult decision to leave religious life in 1967, Mr. Rauser left Chaminade for two years and taught in the public school system. He missed Chaminade and the Marianist culture and was overjoyed when the principal, Fr. John McEnhill S.M., invited him back to teach history at the (then) Canoga Park campus.

The rest is Chaminade history, as Mr. Rauser has committed the last 46 years of his life to teaching the students of our school. That means that this year marks an incredible 50 years of dedication to Marianist education and Chaminade College Preparatory. During his historic tenure at Chaminade “the Rau” has worn many hats: he has been a dean, a dorm director, a basketball coach, and a grade-level moderator. But his greatest areas of devotion have been as an English grammar teacher, a high school and middle school cross-country coach, and the organizer of 8th-grade graduation. For a large portion of his career, Mr. Rauser taught grammar to 8th graders in his inimitable, energetic way helping to lay the foundation for Chaminade’s renowned writing program. He loved teaching his students the nuances of diagramming sentences while weaving in conversations on current events. Nearly every one of Mr. Rauser’s 50 years found him coaching a sport or two along with his teaching duties. His favorite sport by far was cross-country, where he inspired countless Eagle athletes over the decades. Whether he coached boys or girls, middle school or high school, all his athletes were proud to be part of “Rauser’s Runners.” Finally, Mr. Rauser cherished his role as 8th-grade moderator where he presided over all the middle school graduation festivities. He was famous for his meticulous line-up practices and his creative use of the megaphone.

There are those who claim that Mr. Rauser would do anything to make a point to his students, including dancing on their desktops, tiptoeing along the chalk tray, and doing cartwheels across the classroom floor. Certainly, some of the stories of Mr. Rauser’s antics are slightly embellished, but one thing that can never be exaggerated is his love for his students and his commitment to Chaminade. Joseph Rauser has spent his life making an impact on students from the tumultuous 60’s to the technological present. He has seen many changes in education during that span of time, but one thing that has not changed is his passion for teaching and his uncanny ability to connect with young people. For his one of a kind spirit and his unprecedented loyalty to Marianist education, Chaminade is proud to bestow on Joseph A. Rauser, for the second time, the title of Founder.

Middle School Mock Trial Team Takes Second at the 43rd Annual LA County Mock Trial Competition

On December 3, teams from four schools argued their final cases in a virtual setting – the first time in Mock Trial history – at the 43rd Annual Los Angeles County Mock Trial Competition Finals sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). Chaminade’s Middle School Mock Trial Team, coached by Jill Teehan and assisted by Chaminade high school seniors Sophia Conzona ’21, Katherine Schultz ’21, and Brendan Teehan ’21, took second place in the Junior Division, for the second time in three years.

Despite the pandemic and the first-time virtual model, 110 teams participated – over 1,800 students – and spent countless hours researching, rehearsing, and preparing arguments to present their case. 

Chaminade’s Aiden Friedman was named Outstanding Prosecution Attorney, Junior Division, Ellya Kim took second place as the Courtroom artist, Senior Division, and Addison Park was named Outstanding Bailiff, Senior Division.

Each year, a new hypothetical criminal case is introduced based on an important legal issue. This year’s case, People v. Croddy, is the trial of Lee Croddy, who hosts a popular YouTube channel called The Right Choice of News (RCN). In the simulation trial, students portray each of the principals in the cast of courtroom characters. Student teams study a hypothetical criminal case, conduct legal research, and receive guidance from volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparations.

The program helps students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and understand their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This educational experience would not be possible without the support and dedication of the over 300 volunteers from the bar and bench who participate in the program as presiders and scorers.

During the awards ceremony, Retired Superior Court Judge Ron Rose commented, “In a difficult time for all of us, every coach, every teacher, every student, their parents, and their families are true winners, and you have brought light into a dark time for all of us. In addition to that, you have proven that our future is in good hands.”

Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) was established in 1962 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. CRF’s innovative educational programs transform youth lives by providing them with the skills to become informed, engaged participants in society and democracy. For more information, please visit

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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.