Eagle Engineering Robotics Team 1138 Stages Astounding Comeback for FRC Regional Tournament Win

Chaminade’s Eagle Engineering Robotics Team 1138 brought home a big win from the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) San Diego Regional Tournament, showing incredible grit and determination by battling back from last place to land a spot in the tournament finals and becoming part of the winning three-team alliance. This was Chaminade’s first FRC Regional Tournament victory since 2006.

The team began in good form on Thursday with a smooth day of inspection, practice and programming. However, once qualifying rounds began, they faced an uncommon string of technical and design malfunctions, strong opposing alliances and a large dose of bad luck to find themselves in 59th place after the first seven of 10 qualifying matches. “We knew that the ranking did not truly reflect our robot’s performance on the field, or the capabilities of our drive team and pit crew, but it’s tough for any team to stay hopeful after such a rough first day,” said the team’s head coach, Tommy Smeltzer. “They did it though. They kept at it and found a way to win.”

After a lively team dinner, Friday night, 1138’s student leaders met to discuss their options. Knowing that the top ranked teams would be choosing two alliance partners to compete with them in the finals and that the prodigious scorers would need a strong defensive partner to get them past other high-scoring teams, they decided to adopt a new strategy in their final three qualifiers to demonstrate the robot’s strong defensive capabilities. The plan worked, and 1138 was chosen by the top-seeded alliance comprised of two previous world champions, teams 987 from Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas and Team 254 from Bellarmine College Preparatory in the San Francisco Bay area. This powerhouse alliance, with Team 1138 shutting down the offensive stars of the opposing alliances, was able to sweep each round of the finals and take home the tournament championship. Each of the teams now progress to the FRC National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 24-27.

Middle School Debate Team Takes 1st Place at Polytechnic Invitational

Congratulations to the Middle School Debate Team who took 1st place at the Polytechnic Invitational this past Saturday. As one of the largest middle school debate tournaments in the country, the competition featured over 100 teams and more than 300 debaters. Eighth  graders Charlotte Powers, Kristina Marter, and Christine Gotthardt won the championship with Chaminade taking top school overall.  The team of Lexie Afradi, Spencer Levitt, and Jack Cheney also finished undefeated, placing 7th, and Chaminade won five of the Top Speaker awards.  For the fifth year in a row, the team has qualified for the National Championship and will compete at Claremont-McKenna College on April 20.

CSDS Member Ranks 4th Nation

Ask Chaminade Speech & Debate Society (CSDS) member Rhea Sareen what she loves most about being part of the debate team and her answer will reflect the Chaminade ideal of “Me becomes We.”  Why? Because Rhea (Class of 2013) has taken her public speaking career to a new level.  Rather than merely competing at tournaments, Rhea shares her passion for public speaking by serving her community. For several years, Rhea has been speaking at civic organizations and at her temple, a fact that is not lost on the National Forensic League.

“The National Forensic League is the nation’s largest and oldest academic honor society. It was founded in the 1920s and provides recognition and resources to tens of thousands American students involved with competitive speech and debate,” says Chaminade Director of Forensics Marianne Rosen. “The NFL awards honors to students not only for competing, but for serving the community. Rhea is a shining example of Chaminade’s commitment to service, and the NFL recognizes this.”

Rhea learned this month that she ranks 4th in the nation in the category of “Community Service and Public Speaking.”  It is quite an achievement, when considering that there are over 120,000 student members of the NFL.

Rhea will be honored in May when CSDS hosts its 7th Annual Awards Night at the high school.

Chaminade Students Head to Washington, D.C.


Among the one million Inauguration Day spectators in Washington, D.C., were 23 Chaminade students and two teachers. Thanks to Senator Barbara Boxer, who arranged for them to get tickets to the Inauguration, this excited group from California witnessed history closer to the Capitol than most groups.

While attending President Barack Obama’s second inauguration was a highlight of their trip, these Chaminade students were also taking in much of what Washington has to offer. Their week-long visit was a part of the Close Up program. They began their stay with a tour of the National Mall, where they visited the Smithsonian museums and had a private tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In between the Close Up program instruction, the students participated in the National Day of Service, held on Saturday, January 19; attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; and visited Matt DeSilva ’12, who is a freshman at Georgetown University.

As a part of the Close Up program, the students will also visit the Newseum, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Marine Corps War Memorial, and take a Capitol Hill walking tour.




Taking Time Out For STEM Careers

Sometimes, it is nice to get out of the classroom, leave textbooks behind, and learn in a different setting.  Chaminade Middle School students did just that on Wednesday, March 21 during the Distinguished Science Speaker series.  Organized by Science Department Chair, Margie Chespak, the series is in its second year at Chaminade, and is a program designed to expose students to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Five Chaminade parents who work in various STEM careers spoke to the entire Middle School, and offered insights and advice.  Ken Kubo, a Northrup Gruman software engineer showed the audience how the academics of geometry, physics, and algebra created a popular video game. Next, students learned how Cindi Hein, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician from Mead Johnson Nutrition took “the road less travelled” and went from earning a B.A. in History to becoming a registered dietician.  Dr. David Gerwe, a Boeing Company technical fellow then wowed students with his work on lasers, telescopes, satellites, computers, and electronics.  Students also learned about the many career options offered by public health from Seira Kurian, M.D., MPH, who is a public health physician with the Los Angeles County Department of Health.  Finally, Fox Engineering and Operations Senior Vice President, Monte Kuklenski walked the audience through the building and operation of a Fox network center in Houston.

Each speaker had something different to offer the students, but they all encouraged students to work on a well-rounded education and not simply focus on the math and science.  They talked about the importance of developing communication skills through the liberal arts and writing.

While students certainly enjoyed the opportunity to take their learning outside the classroom, they especially enjoyed seeing how the subjects they learn are used in practical, real-life situations.  Thomas Price ’16 said, “It was a great way to…learn from a different perspective…to learn from professionals in their real life jobs, to show you how what science teaches you, how you can use it in society.”

After the presentations ended, six students, along with their science teachers, ate lunch with the speakers.  They used the time to talk about the future of learning in the STEM disciplines, and what Chaminade can do to prepare.  The speakers then sat at tables during the main lunch period and answered questions from students.