CBy Kyle Burgess ’17
Chaminade High School was founded in 1930 with the intention of educating the young Catholic men of Long Island, both academically and spiritually, in the Marianist tradition. Today, 85 years later, the mission of Chaminade continues to grow through the family spirit created amongst students, parents, and faculty, as well as through dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although this mission has remained the same over the years, the school’s appearance has undergone multiple extensions and renovations to accommodate larger student bodies and an ever-expanding number of extra-curricular activities. Each improvement made to the school grounds has aided in progressing the education of students in the classroom and on the field, beginning with the contributions made by the first student body over eight decades ago.
Chaminade’s humble roots began when 150 young men reported for classes at the Bar Building on September 15, 1930. Brother Alexander J. Ott, S.M., was named the school’s first principal. The original student body called the corner of Franklin Avenue and 15th Street home until May of the following year, when classes were transferred to the newly-completed Chaminade High School on 340 Jackson Avenue, where it stands today. Dedication of the new building took place on September 27 by the Most Reverend Thomas E. Molloy, S.T.D., and the school was officially christened as an academic institution.
The need for an athletic field for the Flyers’ growing sports teams soon arose and Faerber Field was purchased by the Parents Clubs in 1939. Although Chaminade was growing rapidly, the dark shadow of the Second World War eventually fell upon the campus, and many Gold Star Alumni lost their lives on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific in defense of their country.
Following the war, Chaminade dedicated the West Wing of the school in 1953 due to a growing number of enrolled students. A year later, the East Wing of the school was added, and Darby Auditorium was dedicated on December 8, 1955 to allow for student concerts and school plays. In 1970, Chaminade’s campus grew with the addition of the Meribah retreat house, Founders Hall, and a new library. Chaminade fostered a stronger athletic program in the mid 1970s with Thomas Field as well as with a new swimming pool and renovated track in 1979. Completing the major renovations of the school, Powers Hall opened in 1982.
With the arrival of the year 2000 came the beatification of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade by Saint John Paul II, a historic achievement for the Marianist order. Three years later, the Physical Fitness Center opened for student and alumni use. The Activity Athletic Center was built in 2007 and continues to host school-wide Mass and home basketball games. Gold Star Stadium was dedicated in 2014 in honor of those Chaminade alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country, and Saragossa, a new day-retreat house, opened its doors to students in 2015. Last, Chaminade is continuing to evolve and meet the needs of the student body with the addition of a much-anticipated state-of-the-art 32,000 square-foot Science, Technology, and Research Center set to open its doors to students in autumn of 2017.
This year, in celebration of Chaminade High School’s eighty-fifth anniversary, members of the Chaminade’s Development Office hopes to follow in the legacy of supporting the student body through through the Torch Fund by raising a total of $85,000 in the “Drive for 85” fundraising event. Generous supporters have pledged to match the first $85,000 raised during the campaign. The Torch Fund is the vehicle by which members of the Chaminade community can provide financial support to continue the mission of Chaminade High School.
“We wanted to use the significance of this anniversary to challenge ourselves and try to give back to the school in a big way,” said Christopher Hanley ’80, Senior Development Office member and architect of the fundraising event. “This particular fundraiser is unique because there hasn’t been this level of social media engagement with our alumni and friends, and we’re anxious to evaluate the results.
The “Drive for 85” is also setting precedents in how its members plan to spread the word about the event. “This campaign will be innovative, as we have never done anything like this before,” noted Brother Richard Hartz ’59, S.M., Director of Development and Alumni Relations. “My staff’s expertise with social media will allow for this campaign to succeed. I hope that their enthusiasm for the project will be caught by the entire Alumni Association.”
All members of the Development Office Staff are optimistic about the impact social media will have on the fundraiser, such as Mr. Gabriel Ramos ’04, overseer of Chaminade’s social media accounts. “We have seen the potential that these outlets have offered in the past and have been very impressed. Everyone involved is excited to see how much attention the Drive can bring towards the fund and how it will benefit the growth of Chaminade High School.”
The fundraiser is set to take place on Wednesday, February 3 and Thursday, February 4 and will last for thirty-six consecutive hours. “I am hopeful that the social media outlets will be successful in drawing attention toward our fundraiser, and I am confident that we will have tremendous participation,” Mr. Hanley commented. “This is something the Development Office will definitely consider reinstating at future milestones in order to progress the Marianist mission of educating young Catholics for years to come.”