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Long Beach Poly Wilson

Wilson’s Fekjar, Poly’s Stevens Win CIF-SS Champions For Character Award

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

Two longtime Long Beach educators were recently honored by the CIF Southern Section for exemplary character over the course of their long, decorated careers. Wilson activities director Erin Fekjar and Poly band director Chris Stevens were both honored at the CIF-SS Champions For Character banquet in Long Beach recently.

It was a true Long Beach affair as Stevens’ jazz band combo from Poly provided the music for the evening and the Lakewood High JROTC presented the colors to open the ceremony.

Fekjar has been the activities director at Wilson for 19 years, preserving and extending countless Wilson traditions. She also supervises the campus Girl Scouts, and has become an important figure on campus for those who need advice or support. She also runs the school’s freshman orientation and link crew that helps welcome in each new Bruins class.

She’s mentored countless activities directors throughout the Long Beach Unified School District and also helped guide Wilson’s new athletic directors over the years.

Her longtime colleague Terry Speir, who was Poly’s activities director and who is on the CIF-SS ethics committee, wrote in her nomination that Fekjar is the “heart and soul of Wilson High School.”

Stevens is a unique honoree in that music/band contributors are not typically directly honored by the CIF-SS. Stevens has been a key figure at Poly for 27 years, since he was hired by longtime Poly music department head Andy Osman. Stevens, who also still plays as a professional musician, embraces and elevates a lot of longtime Poly traditions.

He was a key part of the school winning several GRAMMY awards for the best high school music program in America, and has helped guide the Poly marching band to many honors over the years.

In her nomination letter to the CIF-SS, Speir wrote an anecdote about Stevens from the time when Poly (the CIF-SS’ largest school at the time) adopted Lee Vining High (the section’s smallest school) in a show of sportsmanship. Poly held fundraisers to help pay for new basketball uniforms for the mountain high school, and when Stevens found out that Lee Vining didn’t have a music program, he started having his students perform concerts for them on their way to the Reno Jazz Festival.

“He wanted to introduce music to the Lee Vining students,” she wrote. “This is the type of person Chris is. He makes a difference in the lives of kids, no matter where he is.”

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.