Over 380 guests and 40 volunteers dressed up for the sold-out Coronado Schools Foundation ‘Back To Prom’ gala at the Hotel del Coronado on Saturday night. The gala was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic, and supporters were eager to get back to the ballroom for the annual fundraising and social event. The CSF gala is a fall tradition, raising money for Coronado schools since 1984.
“What a night! The Coronado community embraced our CUSD students, teachers and leadership on Saturday coming together to party with a purpose at the CSF Gala. The prom theme brought fantastic fashion, nostalgic décor and guests boogied through the decades with the band. From the dance contest to the Live Auction, the Hotel del Coronado Ballroom was certainly abuzz; but the BIG winners of the night were the kids; the fundraising was a showstopper! We are crunching numbers and will announce the total soon. On behalf of the CSF Board, a heartfelt thank you to volunteers and guests who made the night a success by all measures” said CSF Executive Director Michelle Gilmore.
There were many highlights throughout the evening, but the ‘big announcement’ came early in the program when CUSD Superintendent Karl Mueller and Mark Blumenthal revealed that Nancy and Spiro Chaconas donated $250,000 for naming rights of the CHS Baseball Field, referred to as “The Sandlot,” located at Silver Strand Elementary school.
“Spiro and Nancy epitomize how active involvement and support for our schools improve the conditions for current and future students. Their generous spirit and desire to contribute are unparalleled,” said Superintendent Karl Mueller. “I had both Michael and Demetri as students when I was the principal at CHS and I am fortunate to call Spiro my friend. What a great legacy this gift is for both the Chaconas family and for the district!”
‘Chaconas Field’ will be officially dedicated in February 2022 with a ceremony honoring Spiro and Nancy and recognizing not only their generous donation but also their decades of service to Coronado schools.
Nancy and Spiro Chaconas, along with their sons Michael and Demetri, have shared their time, talent, and treasure with the Coronado schools for decades.
“In 1999 Spiro and Nancy donated $100 to CSF. They have donated every year for 22 years and they are #9 in our CSF database out of 14,500 donors,” said Gilmore.
Spiro served on the CSF Board for ten years, and as its president for four years from 2007-2011. Nancy was the president of Village Elementary PTO when the boys were in elementary school. Michael (CHS ’14) and Demetri (CHS ’15) were both academic and athletic standouts at CHS.
“My boys got such a great educational background in Coronado. I could never repay the schools for what they did for my sons,” shared Spiro.
Demetri went on to earn a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from UCLA and Michael graduated from Point Loma Nazarene with a degree in Business.
All three of the Chaconas men are also baseball players, which inspired Spiro and Nancy’s choice to make the generous donation for the baseball field.
Spiro attended Northwestern University on an academic and baseball scholarship, earning All-Big Ten honors as a second baseman. He was even asked to sign with the Detroit Tigers but wasn’t impressed with the basic-wage salary.
Both sons were active in Coronado Little League and then played at CHS. Islander Varsity Baseball Head Coach Morgan Cummins was also on hand Saturday night to celebrate with the Chaconas family. “I had the pleasure of coaching Michael and Demetri in middle school and high school. To this day, I tell our players the story of Michael Chaconas – someone who had to start out on the Freshman team, wasn’t supposed to start on JV as a sophomore, and ended up working himself into a First Team All-League player. Similarly, Demetri was someone I recruited to play in college at Harvey Mudd College, but he found that UCLA was a better fit for him. Both are outstanding young men who we are proud to call Islanders Baseball Alumni,” said Coach Cummins.
“Baseball is in our blood. We all love it so much!” laughed Spiro.
Spiro graduated from Marquette Dental School and was an orthodontics professor and the founding chair of the Orthodontic Department at UCLA. He retired in 1995 after 27 years. Fortunately for CSF and CUSD, Spiro and Nancy moved to Coronado to raise their sons (and open the popular Spiro’s Greek Café at the Ferry Landing).
Gilmore said the CSF Board and staff are looking forward to seeing the Chaconas family at the field. “We are planning and looking forward to a very special naming ceremony at Chaconas Field in February. The facility is undergoing major upgrades and Spiro will throw out the first pitch when it reopens and the high school season begins,” she announced.
CSF will kick off a ‘Naming Rights’ campaign later this year for other district facilities. “We have some wonderful opportunities and look forward to sharing them with our donors,” said Gilmore.
Meanwhile the CSF staff is busy tying up loose ends from the gala. “The online auction is a good part of our fundraising, and it doesn’t close until Monday, November 1st. In fact, we have added some new items and they are ready for bidding!” emphasized Gilmore.
CSF will provide a complete report on the event and fundraising totals in November.