Principal’s Message: Guest Blogger Student Malik McMorris ’15

principals-message-logo1Senior Malik McMorris ’15 has excelled in the classroom and in the world of athletics at Mater Dei High School as a member of the football, basketball and track teams.  For his senior year, Malik is focusing on football and track and was most recently named High School Athlete of the Month for October by Sports Illustrated. Malik was the first athlete in the nation to receive this honor. In addition, Malik has been invited to play in Semper Fi All-American Bowl in January 2015. Even in the wake of his mother’s recent passing in January 2014, Malik has successfully balanced his commitment to academics (carrying a 3.7 GPA), athletics, and his family.

Today was an exciting day for Mater Dei High School with several representatives from various media outlets covering tonight’s big game against Servite High School as well as Malik’s honors from Sports Illustrated and the United States Marines. We asked Malik to take a quick moment to blog about his experience over these last weeks as well as today’s events.

It is really nice to get this level of recognition from people I know and even from those I don’t know. People have been coming up and congratulating me. It is great to know that people are supporting me and want me to keep excelling at what I am doing.

I never expected to receive an honor like this.  The day I found out about it was just kind of normal. Coach called me into his office and told me that Sports Illustrated wanted to interview me. He made it seem like it wasn’t a very big deal. Then all of the interviews happened and I started to realize it actually was a big thing. But, I just rolled through it. They constructed a great video interview and article.

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This morning I got to be on KTLA, spoke with Sports Illustrated and other members of the press. It was interesting. I just tried to have fun with it. You know, these kinds of things might never happen again for me. So, I am just enjoying the moment.

As for being selected to the Semper Fi All-American team….well, Monarchs of the past like Jonathan Lockett and Thomas Duarte have had that honor. I never thought I would have the chance to go through the same thing. Having the Marines here on campus today during our rally was really awesome. And Matt Leinart ’01 got the students fired up too. I can’t describe how I felt with the whole school cheering and the Marines there with my dad and me.

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We’re ready for the game tonight against Servite. We’re going to kick things up a notch. This is a great rivalry and we as a team have been playing against these guys the last four years. We have got to weather this storm and get the big win. I do believe we are the better team and we Monarchs have each other’s backs.  Coach Rollinson always reminds us that we are not just playing for ourselves, but also for the players of the past and for brothers and sisters in Mater Dei. I am all for that.


Coach Bruce Rollinson ’67

Everyone is so supportive. They have been all of my life – from my parents, teachers, and coaches. Even parents from other teams and other players have been great. Everyone has provided me support and I have been able to grow as a person and an athlete. I am so thankful for these experiences and this special time.

I do not believe it is an accident that these accolades and honors have happened to me in a month that promotes breast cancer awareness. My mom fought that for a long time.  It is funny that this has all happened during this time, but it is not an accident. I may not have pink on my uniform tonight, but I have my pink mouth guard, which reminds me of this very important cause and of course my mom.


One of the best lines from today was something I have never heard Coach Rollinson say, “When the sun goes down tonight, the sky will turn RED.”


Malik McMorris ‘15

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Information Night Oct 15

performing-arts-message-logo11At the Information Night event, you will have several chances to experience the talents of our Performing Arts students. We will be showcasing their talents throughout the evening. Here is a brief listing of times and venues to help you plan your evening.


6:45 pm to 7:00 pm in Meruelo Athletic Center – Cheer, Song, Dance, Color Guard, Marching Band

7:00 pm to 7:30pm in Meruelo Athletic Center during the formal presentation will be performances from our Chambers Choir and the cast of our recent All School Musical Little Shop of Horrors. At the end of the presentation, our Drumline will lead the crowd out to the Grotto.

7:30 pm to 9:00 pm in Monarch Pavilion (Old Gym) – Meet the faculty and Directors of the  various Performing Arts classes and ensembles. Pick up flyers about upcoming events and general information about the programs. Ask questions about the programs and find out how to get involved. These include Band, Choir, Dance, Theatre, Song & Cheer programs.

7:50 pm and again at 8:30 pm in Monarch Pavilion (Old Gym) – Performing Arts Showcase will feature A Capella Club, MD Improvisational Club, Dance Team and the Handbells Ensemble.

MD Pageantry Corps is comprised of our Marching Band and Color Guard programs

MD Pageantry Corps is comprised of our Marching Band and Color Guard programs

Mater Dei Pep Squad is comprised of members from MD Cheer and Song Teams

Mater Dei Pep Squad is comprised of members from MD Cheer and Song Teams

See MDHS Dance Team perform in Monarch Pavilion 7:50 & 8:30pm Wed Oct 15

See MDHS Dance Team perform in Monarch Pavilion 7:50 & 8:30pm Wed Oct 15

MDHS Handbells Ensemble is part of the Choir Program

MDHS Handbells Ensemble is part of the Choir Program

The All-School Musical this year was Little Shop of Horrors, students will perform a song from it at the Information Night Event

The All-School Musical this year was Little Shop of Horrors, students will perform a song from it at the Information Night Event

For additional information about Performing Arts programs, please contact the following:

Performing Arts Department Contacts
Patrick Williams, Director of Performing Arts –
Allison Spencer, Administrative Assistant –

Choir & Handbells
Scott Melvin, Choir Director –
Justin Miller, Asst. Choir Director –

Band & Music Academy
Fernando Martinez, Director of Bands –

Pep Squad
Jason Aldridge, Varsity Cheer Coach –
Dee Dee Aldridge, Junior Varsity Cheer Coach –
Aubrey Price, Song Coach –

Dance Classes & Dance Team
Victoria Ferrigno ’04, Director of Dance Programs –
Lissy Lex ’99, Competitive Dance Team Head Coach –

Theatre Arts, Productions & Clubs
Patrick Williams, Director of Performing Arts –
Joe Alanes, Theatre Arts Teacher –

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Principal’s Message: National Merit Semi-Finalists & Commended Scholars

principals-message-logo1Mater Dei High School is very pleased and proud to announce and congratulate our National Merit semi-finalist, Sydney Gang and National Merit Commended Scholars, Emily R. Brunette, Grace N. Emmel, Sebastian Gutierrez, Matthew B. McGhee, Jonathan W. Saba, Alexander S. Stoller and Jun Z. Wang.  It is indeed a great honor for these students to be recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program for their outstanding academic achievements and success on the PSAT/NMSQT taken during their junior year of high school.

To have qualified as a National Merit semi-finalist means that Sydney is in the top 1% of the nation’s high school graduating seniors and has an opportunity to advance in the competition for some prestigious Merit Scholarship awards.  Our commended students are among the highest scorers in the National Merit program, again based on their outstanding scores on the PSAT/NMSQT exam taken in their junior year.  Some of these commended students may be candidates for special college Scholarships offered through the National Merit program.

The National Merit Scholarship Program, conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), is an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships.  It is a privately financed not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance and the competition is open to all US high school students who meet the participation requirements. To date, Mater Dei High School has had 167 National Merit Finalists. This is an incredible honor for our students as well as our teachers.

On October 15, all MDHS Junior level students will have the opportunity to take the PSAT Exam and we hope to have many of these students recognized in their senior year as National Merit scholars.

In Mater Dei,

Frances Clare, Principal

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30th Annual Family Mass & Pancake Breakfast

On Sunday, September 28, the Mater Dei community gathered for the 30th Annual Family Mass and Pancake Breakfast. Nearly 2,200 members of the MD family were present at this celebration. Father Kiet Ta, our new Rector/Chaplain, presided at this Mass. Father Kiet’s enthusiastic and powerful message reminded each and every one of us that our lives can make a difference in this world.


Fr. Kiet really has a way of making Mater Dei Masses so special.

Our incredible choir, handbells and members of the Mater Dei band provided a beautiful and inspirational soundtrack for our worship.


Long-time MD family, the Kellys brought up the gifts. With six of their children as alumni, Jude and Jay Kelly, are now proud grandparents to Monarchs at Mater Dei.

Another hallmark of this great day was the sharing of our families in the ministries of the Mass and the participation of our numerous student programs who teamed up on all jobs great and small to make the day so memorable and successful.

Of course afterward, we all enjoyed a very Catholic conclusion to our time together, which was a delicious pancake breakfast which was lovingly prepared by our parent and student volunteers. A special thank you the Bechay family and Denny’s/MBM for their donation to this event and for their partnership.

Our Mater Dei community was generous beyond words in response to our collection for the Helen Steves Honorary Fund, which provides opportunities for ALL of our young people who desire to participate in our outstanding Retreat Program. A very special thank you to those whose hearts were moved in generosity for our collection that totaled nearly $8,000! Please know because of each one of YOU, our young people will have the opportunity of sharing in some life-changing experiences and might not otherwise have had this privilege. In return, we promise you a remembrance in our prayers during each and every one of our retreats.

Did you know that each year, over half of our student body takes time out to be a part of our Retreat Program through our New Student Welcome Day for incoming freshmen and transfer students, class retreats, and Walk in Faith, which is the culminating part of our Retreat Program. This is an integral part of the Mater Dei experience and something we are so proud to offer our Monarchs.

My deepest gratitude to all of those who made this year’s Family Mass and Pancake Breakfast so special. We welcome and encourage your continued support of the Helen Steves Honorary Fund. Click here for more information.

In Mater Dei,

Helen Steves,
Director of Campus Ministry

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P.S. Enjoy more photos of the celebration, courtesy of Lou Collazo, by CLICKING HERE.

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President’s Message: Sentinels of Freedom Blessing & Dedication Ceremony

president's  message logoA few years ago Peggy Patton ’68 and Laurie and Bruce Rollinson ‘67 (long-time outstanding MD educators) approached me with the idea of constructing a memorial honoring those in the Mater Dei community who had dedicated their lives to military service for our great country. From that kernel of an idea rose out of the ground the incredible Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden on Mater Dei’s campus. Last night, in a poignant and dignified ceremony, the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden was blessed and dedicated by Fr. Steven. G. Sallot ’72, Vicar General of the Diocese of Orange and former Rector of MDHS.

The evening was incredibly solemn, but a very uplifting experience. We began with the presentation of the colors by the cadets of St. Catherine’s Academy and a truly beautiful rendition of God Bless America and the National Anthem by the MD Band and Honors Chamber Singers. Lt. Colonel John Flynn ‘95, currently the Senior Military Aide to the Vice President of the United States of America, gave a powerful and thoughtful speech on service, dedication, and freedom. Following John’s speech, our six Monarchs killed in action were honored with a scripture reading and memorial tribute. It was a fitting remembrance for those who gave the full true measure of devotion in service to their country. In addition, the 400 plus Monarchs who served in any of the branches of the United States Military Services (and whose names appear on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom) were honored and recognized. Many were also in attendance at the event. It was very moving to witness them stand together to be acknowledged.

Fr. Steve then delivered a poignant prayer and reflection, which ended with a beautiful version of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” sung by Mater Dei Choir Director, Scott Melvin. Following the sprinkling of the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden site with holy water by Fr. Steve Sallot, MD Band Director Fernando Martinez played a very moving and solemn rendition of “Taps.” The evening concluded with a special blessing for all gathered and all honored on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom by the Vicar General, and then an incredibly stirring and emotional version of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Mater Band and Honors Chamber Choir was performed. Nearly 500 were in attendance at last night’s dedication. It was truly a special and memorial occasion.

A heartfelt thanks to Fr. Steve Sallot; Helen Steves, Director of Campus Ministry; Erica Adams, VP of Advancement; the entire Advancement Team; Bruce and Laurie Rollinson; Lt. Colonel John Flynn; Director of Facilities Steve Ritter, Assistant Director of Facilities Luis Banda and the entire Facilities Team; the amazing Honors Chambers Choir; Scott Melvin, Kent Helwig, and Justin Miller; the MD Band and Fernando Martinez; to our incredibly generous Sentinels of Freedom benefactors and to all of the sub contractors who came together in a labor of love to construct the Sentinels of Freedom Memorial Garden. May God Bless you all and may God Bless, guide and comfort all of those named on the walls of the Sentinels of Freedom and their wonderful families!!

Enjoy a few photos from last night’s event below or CLICK HERE to see all pictures (Courtesy of Lou Collazo Photography and MDHS Advancement).

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Patrick Murphy, President

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Pep Squad Camp & Halftime Performance



Students in Kindergarten through 8th grade have a unique opportunity  to perform Monarch’s Football Halftime show. Our Pep Squad is hosting a clinic and the performance. The Pep Squad consists of members of Mater Dei Song Teams and Mater Dei  Cheer.

cheer camp


The clinic to learn the routines is on Saturday Sept 13 on Mater Dei campus in the LeVecke Center from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm. The performance is at Halftime on Sept 19 at the big home game against Upland High School. This game will be at Santa Ana Bowl 7:00 pm Friday 9/19/2014.

Click here for the website with registration form.

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On the Sidelines: Honors and Accolades

athletics message logo2014=777
What a year 2014 has been for Mater Dei boys’ basketball coach, Gary McKnight.  Like never before, if there was a prestigious coach of the year award to be presented, it seemed like McKnight was there to accept it.  Roll the tape…

  • Morgan Wooten Award *for lifetime achievement in coaching high school basketball by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Naismith Boys’ National Coach of the Year
  • MaxPreps National Coach of the Year *for all sports
  • MaxPreps Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year
  • National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) National Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year
  • CIF State Coach of the Year
  • CIF-SS Open Division Coach of the Year

And the 2014 good fortune probably does not end there.  McKnight, with a 995-85 (.921 winning percentage) career coaching record, will most likely notch his 1,000 career win sometime in the month of December.  Stay tuned.

Martinez Honored
Rick Martinez was recently named the inaugural 2014 boys’ track and field state coach of the year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.  Martinez led the Monarchs last spring to both section and state championships, the first such titles in boys’ track and field in school history.

The Gold Standard
Mater Dei’s Katie Lou Samuelson (Class of 2015) spent the past summer helping Team USA’s U17 squad win the FIBA World Championships in the Czech Republic.  The United States beat Spain in the gold-medal game, 77-75.  Samuelson led her team in scoring, averaging just under 14 points per game during the event and was one of two Americans named to the five-member all-tournament team.  Samuelson recently committed to the University of Connecticut.

Philip Bellomo, Director of Athletics

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