A Multi-Generational Family Tradition
For three generations of the Groneck family—including Dan Groneck of Chesterfield—Chaminade College Preparatory School has been a tradition that has enriched, so far, the lives of four men.
Chaminade, at 425 South Lindbergh Blvd., is an independent Catholic day and resident school sponsored by the Marianist Province of the United States, and has been serving young men in grades six through 12.
“My dad, Jack, class of 1954; brother John, class of 1980; and son Andrew, class of 2016, all went to Chaminade, as well as myself,” says Dan, class of 1982.
Jack, who retired in 1996 as director for the F18 program in Switzerland for McDonnell Douglas, was sent to the school after his mom passed away when he was young.
“My father decided it would be very important for me to be strong in the Catholic faith, and felt putting me as a resident student—originally in fifth grade—would provide stability and help support my formation in faith,” Jack says.
“I enjoyed the guys I grew up with—we’re still all friends and get together once a month. I felt the brothers provided a good, stable base for life, good moral values and a good foundation. Chaminade became my home. Our family has started a family scholarship at the school as well, trying to help others go there—especially those who board and who have a lost a parent ”
Dan, who is manufacturing technology integration leader at Boeing St. Louis, said he didn’t feel family pressure to go to Chaminade, but eventually followed in, especially, his brother’s footsteps.
“My older brother John was having a great experience there, and when it came time for me to make a high school selection after going to St. Monica’s grade school, I was impressed by the friendships my brother was making,” Dan said.
“I got an all around education in faith formation, focusing on an integral and holistic college prep experience. And Chaminade has a strong academic program with a family spirit I felt and still feel.”
Dan was captain of cross country and track.
“Each year at homecoming, the cross country team would run in and light bonfires to start off homecoming week, a memory that remains with me still,” he says.
“I remember there was a big Catholic athletic conference cross country meet, and you had to run up a long hill with Chaminade’s football team cheering us on. Hearing those upperclassmen cheer us as we made the push up the hill is a special memory.”
Dan’s son Andrew, 18 and now a freshman studying pre-med at the University of Mississippi, attended Rockwood District schools before Chaminade.
Dan didn’t make Andrew feel he had to go to Chaminade; Andrew chose to attend. Andrew, unlike his father, was able to participate in a new house system similar to the houses in the Harry Potter Hogwart’s School universe, and Dan praised the new view of Chaminade that he got as a parent.
Andrew, who was house captain of his Lamourous House in his senior year—similar to a student body leader interacting with students in grades six to 12—said he enjoyed the whole family aspect of the school.
“It was great that all classmates knew each other,” says Andrew, who played baseball all four years on the Red Devils team.
“Beyond just classroom discussions, we had other opportunities to interact with faculty and learn more on a variety of subjects. My teachers were friends, too, and I keep in touch with many of them now. All classes were very small so there was more input from everybody.”
Another family praising Chaminade is that of Pete Buback, who lives in Chesterfield and works as vice president/business development for Nexus Construction Service Group.
Pete graduated in 1981, and he has one son who is a senior there and another who recently graduated.
“My mom and dad grew up in St. Louis—moved away after they married, but moved back in 1978—so I first went to Chaminade as a sophomore,” he said.
“At the time, I had cousins attending. I enjoyed the sporting aspect of an all boys school, playing football and baseball for the Chaminade Flyers. And I got so much mentorship from faculty, which, at that time, still had some Catholic brothers and priests involved.”
He’s still in touch with former classmates and is a “class captain” involved with planning of reunions. He’s also on the board of the buildings and grounds committee at the school.
“Every fall, Chaminade has an alumni football game with a barbecue and reception for all alumni where you can see your former classmates,” he said.
“Also, Chaminade is an international school with boarding students from all over the world. That opens up students’ minds to other cultures and diversity.”
Pete’s son Tim, 20, graduated in 2014 and now is attending college at Cardinal Glennon College/Kenrick-Glennon Seminary preparing to become a priest.
“I really enjoyed the brotherhood,” says Tim, who transferred to Chaminade in seventh grade.
“I made many long-time friends, played football and baseball and managed the basketball team. I experienced the house system there which my dad did not—I was in Meyer House. There are five different houses, and your home room is decided by your house. I enjoyed being part of that—learning from older and younger students. Twice a month, there’s a house-related activity, like a meeting or competition,” Tim says.
Tim’s younger brother David, 18 and a senior this year, is also in Meyer House.
“I enjoy the sense of community and mentoring, as well as the sense of family spirit that makes Chaminade special. And the academic rigor is strong, too.”
Philip Rone, principal of Chaminade, said the two families are among plenty of legacy students who have attended for generations.
Chaminade is named for the man who founded the Brothers of Mary, William Joseph Chaminade. The Society of Mary purchased the property for Chaminade in January 1906. Three years later, ground was broken for the administration and classroom building. In 1910, the first year of school, there were two students in fifth grade, three in sixth, and two in eighth, while the high school served seven students. Today, enrollment is 830, with 560 high school students in grades nine to 12, and 270 middle school students in grades six to eight.
Rone said Chaminade’s intention is to ensure that every young man that passes through its doors is able to achieve the balance between school, life and play.
Emphasis is placed on the five characteristics of Catholic Marianist education, including educating for formation in faith; providing an integral, quality education; educating in family spirit; educating for service, justice and peace; and educating for adaptation and change, Rone says.
The school motto is the Latin ESTO VIR, “Be a Man,” Rone said.
“The formation we provide stays in folks’ minds, and lifelong relationships are built with people here,” says Rone, who previously taught for 15 years at Chaminade and still meets with students he taught.
Father Ralph Siefert, president of Chaminade, says that family spirit emphasis is rooted in the Marianist approach to education.
“The whole Marianist approach to education is building, nurturing and supporting relationships,” he says.
Along with the old, there’s a focus on the new.
Chaminade just rededicated a new turf football field, which now serves as a multi-purpose field, says Dianne Dunning-Gill, director of enrollment management, and whose family—including son Jack Gill, class of 2020—has been at the school for three generations.
Siefert says the school also hopes to build a new global residence program.
“Most people in education are trying to prepare global citizens, but we bring the world to us,” Siefert says.
“Traditions are important, but we also want to be looking at the cutting edge.”