By Pablo Muñoz
Loyola’s sesquicentennial celebration officially concluded Saturday, Nov. 14, with the annual President’s Dinner, which hosted approximately 650 attendees in Hayden Circle. Chairman of the 150 committee Mr. Jack Girardi ’65 and Executive Assistant to the President Mrs. Diane Peck were both awarded the President’s Award and the Medallion of St. Ignatius of Loyola by president Rev. Fr. Gregory Goethals, S.J., ’73.
The President’s Dinner began with a Mass in Clougherty Chapel. From there, guests moved to a cocktail reception in Hayden Circle, followed by a video presentation of the sesquicentennial before the presentation of the awards.
Mrs. Peck said she was enjoying the evening when she was called up to the stage.
“It was a little overwhelming, standing there looking out at over almost 700 people,” said Mrs. Peck. “It was a tremendous honor and I’m profoundly grateful.”
After the video presentation of highlights from the past year, guests moved into Xavier Center for dinner. Mr. Girardi, whom Fr. Goethals asked six years ago to chair the 150th committee, said he thought the video from the President’s Dinner “captured the essence of the event.”
Mr. Girardi said the dozen or so events of the sesquicentennial came as results of “two or three years” of planning, including using student surveys to gather ideas during May 2013.
“The first thing that was done was that we tried to find out about the historical events 150 years ago, and then we also tried to find out about how other institutions had celebrated major birthdays, to try and get a feel, particularly for educational institutions, what else was out there,” Mr. Girardi said.
The events honoring Loyola’s sesquicentennial extended throughout the city of Los Angeles, in the form of streetlight banners, the Sesquicentennial Day of Service and certificates of congressional and county commendation from local representatives. The celebrations reached as far as Washington, D.C. with the addition of Dr. Kevin Starr’s book Loyola High School of Los Angeles–A Sesquicentennial History to the Library of Congress and a blessing by Fr. Goethals over the House of Representatives in May, and Vatican City, with an Apostolic Blessing issued by Pope Francis for the achievement.
“One purpose was to create an environment where members of the Loyola community could come back to campus,” Mr. Girardi said.
The Most Rev. Gordon Bennett, S.J. ‘64, bishop of Los Angeles, attended the first home football game on campus last year and this year’s President’s Dinner, and said his favorite part of the evening program was the video presentation of the past year’s events.
“The variety of activities [of the sesquicentennial], from sports to service to fun to formal banquets was a beautiful tribute to Loyola’s uniqueness and its breadth,” he said. “It was also wonderful to see so many alumni and friends of Loyola going back so many years.”
“This [event]was a lot of celebration and excitement and sentimentality, and was a reflection about how much was accomplished,” Director of Events Ms. Karin Chamberlain said.
Principal Frank Kozakowski said “In reality, we didn’t add that many new things, but we put new spins on things.”
“I think the Day of Service certainly put an exclamation point on what is one of the important characteristics of a graduate of Loyola High School,” Mr. Kozakowski said.
According to Ms. Chamberlain, the President’s Dinner and sesquicentennial events were only possible with the assistance of “amazing volunteers” and the maintenance crew.
Fr. Goethals said he thought the President’s Dinner was a fitting conclusion to the sesquicentennial. “I think it accomplished what I was hoping it would accomplish, which was to have us celebrate Loyola and how we’ve been important to L.A. for a hundred and fifty years,” he said.
The commemorative video from the 2015 President’s Dinner can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/145824102.