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Principal and vice principal at Our Lady Queen of Angels will retire next month

Principal and vice principal at Our Lady Queen of Angels will retire next month
Our Lady Queen of Angels School Principal Eileen Ryan and Vice Principal Mary Fedak will both retire at the end of the school year. (Photo by Daniel Langhorne)

Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic School Principal Eileen Ryan and Vice Principal Mary Fedak will both retire June 30 after a combined 52 years at the Corona del Mar campus.

Ryan plans to travel and work as an accreditation consultant for a branch of the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges. Fedak plans to spend time with her grandchildren.

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During their tenures, Ryan and Fedak were responsible for more than 12,000 students.

"It's wonderful because you see them grow up into wonderful mature men and women," Ryan said.

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Ryan was born in Ohio and attended Cal State Long Beach. She went on to earn a master's from Loyola Marymount University. She was hired as vice principal 31 years ago but became principal after a year.

In 2008, Ryan oversaw the doubling of the student body to about 430 by adding a second class for every grade level.

Another milestone is forthcoming. The K-8 school is about to break ground on its new $5 million athletic and activity center, which will be built on the basketball courts.

Fedak previously taught fourth grade. When asked why she decided to step out of the classroom and into the administration office, Fedak said she got to a point in her career when she wanted to support Ryan.

Parents and students know Fedak well because she opens car doors every morning and greets students as they're dropped off. She is leaving after 21 years at the school.

Stephanie Simpson, director of development, said the one-two punch of losing both top administrators hit the campus community particularly hard.

"She has been the beloved principal to many, many local residents and their children at this school," Simpson said of Ryan. "She is so well loved and respected. It is truly the end of an era."

Chapman University President Daniele Struppa and communications Dean Lisa Sparks enrolled their two daughters at Our Lady Queen of Angels.

"We found Eileen to be an extraordinary leader," Struppa said. "I'm personally sorry she's going to be leaving."

Their younger daughter still has three more years left at the school; their oldest is moving onto high school.

"Our experience at Our Lady Queen of Angels has been very good," Struppa said. "One of the teachers comes early in the morning to give one of our daughters extra support."

At a recent fundraiser, Struppa and Sparks made a donation in Ryan's honor after hearing about her upcoming retirement.

Ryan said she's at peace with the transition and looks forward to her chapter.

"I don't think we ever looked at this as a job," Ryan said.

DANIEL LANGHORNE is a contributor to Times Community News.

Twitter: @DanielLanghorne

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