2020 Champagnat Awards
Marist High School honored several members of its faculty and staff on October 6 by presenting the Champagnat Awards and recognizing retirements and service anniversaries. These honors reflect the 2019-2020 school year.
The Champagnat Awards were presented to Patrick Ryan ’01—a school counselor (from left), Assistant Principal of Student Services Beth O’Neill, and Sue Gardner, the school nurse who retired at the close of the 2019-2020 school year. The award recognizes those who share similar traits with St. Marcellin Champagnat, the founder of the Marist Brothers, and who embrace their roles at the school as vocation. As has been the tradition, this year’s award winners were chosen by previous Champagnat Award winners. In addition to exhibiting Marist and Marcellin-like qualities, award winners must have served at Marist for at least ten years.
Mrs. O’Neill has been connected to Marist almost her whole life. Her brothers attended, as did her husband and children. After a successful career in business, she felt a calling to teaching and education. Not long after arriving at Marist, as it transitioned to coeducation, Mrs. O’Neill was named the dean of discipline for upperclassmen. Starting with the 2020-21 school year, she assumed the role of assistant principal of student services. Br. Hank Hammer, FMS, President Emeritus, noted her compassionate yet firm presence has proven her to be “a competent, talented, and resourceful administrator who as a mother, a teacher, and as an administrator has the best interest of our students at heart.”
Mr. Ryan is a proud Marist alum who has served as a counselor at Marist since 2008. He brings high energy to his role and pushes students towards the decisions and choices that will set them on the right path to personal and academic success. He has served as a coach during his time at Marist and participated in retreats and activities. He also supervises the summer work program, cleaning and the organizing the school building from top to bottom. “What stands out in my mind,” Br. Hank said, “is the Marcellin-like quality that Patrick has in rolling up his sleeves and working side-by-side with his work crew. It doesn’t get more Marist than that.”
Mrs. Gardner served as Marist’s school nurse, offering care to those who needed to manage ongoing health issues, along with treating students on a day-to-day basis and responding to emergency situations. Additionally, she organized training for teachers and staff on a variety of health and safety issues. A mother of four Marist graduates, she embraced the Marist charism and shared it with everyone she encountered. “Her care for ‘the least favored’ and her willingness ‘to love them and love them equally’ has given our students, faculty, and staff a lived experience of what being ‘Marist’ looks like,” Br. Hank said during the presentation. She retired from Marist in May after 14 years.
Two other employees were recognized for their service after retiring. Cathy Chambers taught at Marist for 19 years. As a Spanish teacher in the World Language Department, she made kindness the center of her teaching style. She lived the Marist charism by bringing a Mariel presence to the school. Long-time counselor Patrick Hennessy also ended his 45-year career at Marist. Initially hired to teach religion, he then joined the Guidance Department (now School Counseling) and served as its chair for a time. He was a soccer coach for decades and was heavily involved in retreats and activities.