Don’t Stop Belizin’!

It’s difficult to belize– I mean, believe that our journey abroad has come to an end. Our Monarchs returned safe and sound late Saturday night after a very long day of travel, and hopefully most of them have finished unpacking by now.

The last full day of our trip went by the fastest, probably because students and chaperones were able to choose their activities for the day. Some chose to go sea kayaking and spend more time on the island, while others chose to go on a snorkeling/fishing excursion. Those who went snorkeling and fishing saw more sea life on the reef, then went fishing for their lunch. Porgy, Yellow Tail Snapper, and Grunt ended up on the menu, and tasted delicious!

The afternoon was spent relaxing, finding last minute souvenirs, and packing. Students were sad to be leaving their newfound friends, but were also ready to be returning to their families and homes.

The memories made this week in Belize will last us all a lifetime. If you have not been to Belize, you will not be disappointed by taking a trip there. Take it from us – it is unbelizeable!


From Day 3: Swimming area at cave tubing location


From Day 3: Cave tubing down the Belize River


From Day 5: Tapir at the Belize Zoo


From Day 5: Male and female Pumas at the Belize Zoo


From Day 5: Ms. Samantha Olsen, rising junior Andrew Martinez, and rising junior Arturo Lopez watch as rising junior Kendyll Toomey conquers her fear of spiders


From Day 5: View of the Caribbean and Belize Barrier Reef from shore in San Pedro


From Day 6: Nurse shark swimming at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve


From Day 6: Rising senior Jack Delulio goes in for a close up of two Southern Sting Rays


Monarchs on their last night

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We Can’t “Belize” It’s Coming to an End!

Hello again from Belize! Today we write from San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, an island about 35 miles from the mainland. We traveled here on Wednesday, Day 5 of our trip, from Cristo Rey village. The day had to be timed carefully around the ferry schedule, so that meant being up around 6 am for breakfast and being on the road (with all of our luggage) by 7. On the way, we stopped at the Belize Zoo, and a “Baboon” (aka Howler Monkey) Sanctuary.

The Zoo was unlike most zoos you would find in the U.S. Rather than hosting lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!), the Belize Zoo residents are all native to the country. In fact, many of the residents have been rescued and were brought to the zoo for rehabilitation. a few favorites were a Tapir that wanted to taste a few Go Pros, a male and female Puma chasing each other around, and Junior the Jaguar, who was showing off to a family of 3 doing the “Jaguar Encounter” at the zoo. A few of us (myself included) even conquered our fear of spiders and held a tarantula!

After the zoo we had lunch and went to the Howler Monkey Sanctuary. The local farmers have made an arrangement with the government to keep the area as a preserve to help the Howler Monkey population recover, and they offer tours for people to observe the troop interactions. We took a short walk and ran into a group of young children watching the monkeys. A few monkeys, including a mom carrying her baby, crawled down to a branch just above the children. Those monkeys definitely know how to pose for the camera! We watched them for a little bit, then continued on to Belize City.

We went directly to the ferry in Belize City, and left for San Pedro around 1:30. The ride was just over 2 hours through crystal clear, blue water, and we arrived at our beachfront hotel around 4 pm. We were able to relax for the remainder of the day, which was much needed after our early wake up call.

Yesterday, Day 6, we got up at a more reasonable time and left by boat to go snorkel the barrier reef. We went to Hol Chan, which means “little channel” in Mayan. The area was used by Mayans to go beyond the break waters and fish for food. It rained a bit on the way to the site, but stopped for our time in the water. When we got in, we immediately saw several types of fish, a ray, and even a young nurse shark swimming under the boat. We swam around the preserve for about an hour, and saw countless species of reef fish, nurse sharks, a green sea turtle, a spiny lobster, and, of course, coral.

After our snorkel at Hol Chan, we boated to another site called Shark Ray Alley, where nurse sharks and sting rays can be found in great numbers. We swam around the boat watching them for a short time, then headed back in to shore. On our way in, a thunder  storm started brewing to the east, and the rain started just as we reached our dock. There were blustery winds, thunder, and lightning for about half an hour, then the clouds cleared and we had a beautiful, hot afternoon. You would have never known about the storm if it weren’t for the puddles.

The afternoon was spent around San Pedro’s shops and beaches. After dinner, we spent more time around town. There were a couple of performers at the center of town trying to do a flamethrowing act, but there was too much wind for them to complete it. The students played with some local children there instead until it was time to return to the hotel.

Today is our last full day in Belize. It is hard to “Belize” it is already coming to an end, although our Monarchs are missing their families and ready to come home. We will be enjoying several activities today to soak up every minute we have here, including some kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, shopping, and other memory-making. Don’t worry, pictures to come!

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Update from Belize – days 2, 3, and 4

Hello again from Beautiful Belize! Here are some updates from our travels:

On Sunday, we ventured out of Belize City to see the Lamanai Ruins on the New River Lagoon. We had a 1-hour boat ride to get to the site, and on the way we saw a spider monkey and a few species of birds. When we reached Lamanai, we went on a walking tour and got to climb the ruins. Belize is the only country that still allows tourists to climb the Mayan ruins, and we took advantage of the opportunity! After seeing the main buildings, we were on our way to visit a sugar mill on the property when we heard very loud, growling noises coming from the forest – Howler Monkeys! Students, chaperones, and guides trekked through the park to find the monkeys, and watched as two howled at each other over territory. Definitely not something you see in every day! After the territorial battle, we finished our tour and headed back to Belize City. In the evening, we attended mass at a local church before we went o dinner, and enjoyed some pool time before bed.

Monday took us away from Belize City and out to the jungle to learn survival skills. Local guides showed us various ways Mayans trapped and hunted food, and how they used vegetation for food and medicinal purposes. We also learned how to start a fire – using only bamboo! After our hike, we had lunch and then went cave tubing down the Belize River. There are 9 caves along the river, and the entire area is now part of a national reserve. We were able to float through one of the caves, and learn about local history along the way. The water was clear blue, and extremely refreshing in the 90-something degree heat. From there, we traveled to our next (and current) residence in Cristo Rey, a small village in western Belize. The hotel here is family run, and the rooms are cabana style with thatched huts. The family does everything for the upkeep of the hotel – including making delicious home-cooked meals. Parents, we may have found our new home away from home! If we are not back on Saturday night, check here first 😉

Today was another great day. We began at the local market, where students were able to purchase fresh fruits and some souvenirs. Then we traveled very close to the Guatemalan border to visit Xunantnich (pronounced shoe-nan-tune-itch…you will get it eventually, promise!). Xunantnich is the third tallest ruin in Belize, and of course we climbed up to the top to see the breathtaking view of the countryside. You could also very easily see parts of Guatemala, which was about 5 miles away from us. After Xunantnich we visited Chaa Creek Butterfly Farm and learned about he Blue Morpho Butterfly, then visited a local elementary school where Monarchs were able to learn about the school and play soccer with some local children. With everything going on, the day didn’t end there – we were also able to go horseback riding to a local waterfall/swimming area when we got back to the hotel. Yet another great day, and it seems to jest keep getting better!

Tomorrow we are up bright and early with the sunrise to make it back to the eastern part of the country. We will travel by bus to the national zoo and a baboon sanctuary, then take a ferry from Belize City to our final destination – Ambergris Caye. Stay tuned for updates!


Spider monkey on the New River


High Tower at the Lamanai ruins


Jaguar Tower at the Lamanai ruins (with Monarchs at the top)


Monarchs learning about the elite Mayans at the Lamanai ruins


Monarchs applying bug spray before the survival hike


Rising senior Kaitlyn Minnis tries some fresh coconut water on the survival hike


Rising sophomore Owen Engelman watches as our guide uses only bamboo to start a fire


Monarchs at the Xunantunich ruins


Local guide holding a Blue Morpho Butterfly


Monarchs learning about the local elementary school

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Monarchs Travel to Belize

The Monarchs are once again going abroad – this time to explore (and learn how to survive in) the jungle, visit Mayan ruins, snorkel the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, and more on the adventure of a lifetime in Belize. The week-long trip, organized by the Mater Dei Science Department and led by Ms. Samantha Olsen and Mr. Javier Sandoval, began today, and the group is already enjoying the 88 degree weather and 70+ percent humidity in Belize City. Stay tuned for more updates as we explore this beautiful country!


Monarchs and chaperones anxiously waiting to check in for their flight.

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On the Sidelines: 2015 Spring Sports Wrap Up

athletics message logoBaseball
Finished third in the Trinity League…lost CIF-SS Division 1 wild card playoff game.

Boys Golf
Placed fourth in Trinity League play…one golfer qualified for the CIF-SS Individual Championships…did not qualify as a team for the CIF-SS playoffs.

Boys Lacrosse
Tied for fourth in Trinity League play…did not qualify for the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section playoffs.

Girls Lacrosse
Trinity League does not field girls’ lacrosse…advanced to the semifinal round of the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section playoffs.

Trinity League champions…lost in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.

Boys Swimming
Second place finish in the Trinity League…nine swimmers qualified for the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims…four individuals advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 finals…finished 33rd in the CIF-SS Division 1 championships.

Girls Swimming
Placed second in the Trinity League…seven individuals qualified for the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims…seven swimmers advanced to the CIF-SS Division 1 finals…placed 11th in the CIF-SS Division 1 championships…four individuals qualified to the CIF-State prelims…one swimmer advanced to the CIF-State finals…finished 31st in the CIF-State championships.

Boys Tennis
Second place finish in the Trinity League…lost in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.

Boys Track & Field
Finished second in the Trinity League…six individuals qualified for the CIF-SS Division 2 prelims…two individuals advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 finals…Malik McMorris was the CIF-SS Division 2 champion in the discus and shot put…ranked 10th as a team in the CIF-SS Division 2 championships…one individual qualified for the CIF Masters meet…Malik McMorris was the CIF Masters meet discus champion…one individual qualified for the CIF-State championships…tied for 14th place as a team in the CIF-State championships

Girls Track & Field
Placed second in the Trinity League…18 individuals qualified for the CIF-SS prelims…12 individuals advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 finals…team placed ninth in the CIF-SS Division 2 championships…three individuals qualified for the CIF Masters meet…two individuals qualified for the CIF-State championships…finished tied for 44th place in the CIF-State championships

Boys Volleyball
Co-Champions in the Trinity League…advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.

Philip Bellomo, Director of Athletics

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On the Sidelines: Firing on All Pistons

athletics message logoOne year removed from Mater Dei, Stanley Johnson ’14 was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the No. 8 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.


At Mater Dei, Johnson played a pivotal role for the Monarchs, winning CIF-State titles (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014) in each of his four varsity seasons, as well as two CIF-SS championships (2012 and 2014).

During his high school career, he posted workhorse-like numbers over four seasons, playing in 141 games and averaging 16.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per outing.  Additionally, he made 810 of 1,586 field goal attempts (51.1 percent).  Before being selected as a lottery pick, Johnson played one season at the University of Arizona, where he averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in 38 contests for the Wildcats.

Philip Bellomo, Director of Athletics

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On the Sidelines: Not Bad for an Amateur

athletics message logoFormer Mater Dei golfer Brian Campbell ’11 recently competed as an amateur in the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, WA. For the tournament, Campbell captured the low amateur medal, shooting a five-over-par 285 and finished tied for 27th place. Campbell, who played golf collegiately at the University of Illinois, posted a three-under-par 67 after the first round, tying him for third place after the 18 holes, one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth, who went on to win the championship with a five-under-par 275.

brian campbell

Philip Bellomo, Director of Athletics

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