The Valley Line: Christmas and birthdays take center stage

Oh my, just five more days and it will be Christmas Day. I can hardly believe that it is almost here. Except for a few sundry items, my shopping is done! Of course, I still have to do the work of wrapping the surprises.

Yes, the community is abuzz with Christmas talk and activities. I know that I will be spending the next few weeks trying to catch up on all that has been going on around town. Today I'm only going to roll out one grand event for you:

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy was the setting Dec. 11 for the 100th general meeting of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Assn. Yes, our chamber is 100 years old.

And, while I am speaking of birthdays, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is celebrating its 81st. The school that sits high atop the Flintridge hills has a breathtaking view across the entire basin.

The Spanish mission-style buildings that house the school were once part of a hotel that was built in 1927 by Sen. Frank P. Flint and designed by famed architect Myron Hunt.

In 1931, after the hotel closed, the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose founded the school. They bought the hotel, which included the nine original buildings, hotel furnishings and surrounding land at auction for $150,000.

Guests who arrived at the chamber event last week gathered in the former hotel's grand hall, with its massive fireplace. The room was beautifully decorated for the season, and a tall Christmas tree, filled with a treasure of ornaments, took center stage.

Sister Carolyn McCormack, president of the school, stepped to the podium to welcome guests and to give attendees a short history lesson about the girls academy.

Margaret Kean, chief development officer of Flintridge Sacred Heart, also welcomed guests and spoke briefly about the school's mission.

Wes Seastrom, who will be serving a second term as chairman of the board of directors, then stepped to the podium to say a few words. He introduced Joel Peterson, immediate past board chair, who came forward to present the slate of proposed officers. The names that appeared on the slate, read by Peterson, were then approved by the chamber membership. All will be installed next month.

Filling with Seastrom the many different leadership roles in the chamber are: Kim Beattie, chairman elect and business programs; Linda Taix-Paccone, vice president, ways and means; Eddie Lund, vice president of community programs; Jack Schaedel, vice president of regional legislative programs; Katherine Markgraf, secretary; Tammy Smith, chief financial officer; Joel Peterson, immediate past chairman.

Business directors include Seastrom, Lund and Taix-Paccone, along with Rob Fuelling, Len LaBella, Patrick Liddell, Greg Powell, Sue Stranger, Jackie Walls and Rion Zimmerman.

Board members Peterson and Schaedel are directors at large. Others serving with them in this capacity are Tony Chahine, Caroline Craven, Sister Carolyn McCormack, Erik Ovanspour, Nick Sarkisian and Terry Sneed.

Beattie, Markgraf, Tammy Smith and Anthony Portantino are residential directors. La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Steve Del Guercio, who was among the City Council members attending last week's gathering, will give the chamber's newly elected officers their oath of office on Jan. 17 at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. E-mail her at with news of your local event.

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