July 2013

Augsburg Exchange an Eagles Tradition

Thanks to a continuing partnership between CJ and the Dayton Sister City Committee, a small group of students were able to travel to Germany and stay with host families in the city of Augsburg -- a Dayton Sister City since 1964. Students were chaperoned by Tony Ricciuto, a CJ social studies teacher, his wife Brenda Ricciuto, a science teacher at Mother Brunner Catholic School, and Cordell Williams, a legislative aide for the City of Dayton.

Exchange participant Maggie Mochty ‘14 detailed her experience living and celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime occasion with a German host family.

"Experiencing life in another country can be a bit intimidating. Fifteen American students and three adults accepted this challenge and traveled to Augsburg, Germany. This two week special experience is not something everybody will encounter, but if you ever get the chance, take advantage of it. My unique experience helped shape my understanding of culture and influenced my career path, worldviews and self confidence. The trip also helped me understand the significance of the Dayton Sister City partnership with not only Chaminade Julienne, but also with countries around the world. We were honored to have the leadership and dedication of Mr. and Mrs. Ricciuto (CJ) and their friendship with Mr. Wolfgang Burkhart and Mrs. Sabine Keller (Jakob Fugger Gymnasium). The student exchange would not be possible without their hard work and commitment to keep this cross-cultural global experience alive!"

According to the committee’s Web site, the purpose of the Youth Exchange program is to provide students with an opportunity to genuinely experience another culture, its people, and its customs. The cultural immersion allows young people to develop relationships and connections they may otherwise not be able to make.

"My experience in Germany will forever be close to my heart. I not only explored the country’s culture, but also lived life as a German teenager. Personally, my host family gave me the opportunity to coach a group of 14-year-old boys in basketball, attend a traditional teen German birthday party, hike the Alps and the biggest mountain in Germany, bake a raspberry cake for a friend, water ski on a local lake, and ride a motor scooter to and from school each day. To put the icing on the cake, I got to spend my 18th birthday in another country with an amazing family and new friends. I woke up on my birthday to a German cake on the breakfast table, princess cookies, and a big package that said, 'Do not open until you get home to America.' My gift included a German soccer jersey, flag, scarves, Augsburg t-shirts and a bag, plus chocolates and lemon flavored German chewing gum."

CJ students stayed with the families of teenagers enrolled at Jakob Fugger Gymnasium, a German secondary school comprised of approximately 800 students. Families followed their own routines and schedules, making each student’s experience a little different. Together, the group attended school and visited local landmarks.

"The school and our host families kept us all busy and on our feet. Some of the common activities that all of us Americans experienced together were tours around Augsburg, sightseeing trips to Munich and Landsberg, a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, a gift exchange at the Augsburg Town Hall, and an opportunity to meet the 'King of Augsburg.' "

During the trip, the group from CJ also got to meet a 1963 graduate of Chaminade who was part of the first ever Dayton exchange trip to Augsburg nearly 50 years ago (read more about this in the 2013 Annual Report). The exchange concluded with a farewell barbecue cookout.

"Thanks to the Dayton Sister Cities and the coordination between both schools, bringing an exchange student into another country can have lasting benefits for a school and its community. We’ve had the opportunity to learn about new cultures, languages and traditions, and gained many new friendships. The host families' hospitality and generosity was a memorable experience I'll cherish forever. Leaving the beautiful country of Germany, all 18 of us left behind family, but came home with a heart full of gratitude, thanks and most importantly memories we will never forget."

Next year students from Augsburg, Germany will visit Dayton and stay with host families.


Belize Mission Trip a Personal Journey

A small group of CJ students and chaperones spent five days near the coast of the Caribbean Sea in the country of Belize addressing the needs of others and deepening their faith for a fourth consecutive summer. The purpose of this annual mission trip continues to remain the same, but each student's personal journey is unique from year to year.

First-time participant Matthew Dudon ‘14 reflected on his own experience serving members of the small Central American community this summer. The senior is a member of F.L.I.G.H.T. ‘14, a Project Lead the Way engineering student and a four-year varsity soccer player.

“In the last week of June, eight students, two teachers, one CJ family doctor, and myself went to Belize, Central America for a mission trip. Wow, what an experience! When we first walked off the plane, the heat, humidity and blazing sun were quite evident. Yet, the simplicity of life, shining smiles, welcoming hearts and happy souls weren't so clear until we encountered our new home and the Belize locals. When we walked into a store, a school, or around town, we felt welcomed. This not only inspired us to bring back the same welcoming hearts but also to serve the people there in Belize with everything we had.”

It took the group two flights and a long car ride before finally touching down at their destination in Belmopan, Belize, where they would spend nights and eat meals at the Baptist Training Center. Upon their arrival Sunday, the power went out at the facility due to the high humidity. Fortunately, electricity returned around 10 that night and spirits stayed high.

“Prior to leaving for Belize, we had little idea of our work. We knew we would be spending time at King’s Children’s Home orphanage and distributing the Toy’s For God’s Kids (TFGK) wooden cars many of the CJ students helped make. We soon found out that the lifestyle in Belize was very unscheduled and worriless. Our mission work seemed to follow. The King’s orphanage was under construction building a new housing complex for the orphans. To help assist but not hinder their process, we were given the task to prime the outside of the building for paint. While putting on coat after coat of white primer, we got the opportunity to interact with some of the orphan boys working beside us. Even with the burning sun and the sweat dripping down their faces from constant hard work, they always seemed to have a smile, an interesting story and a great time.”

In the school year leading up to the trip, CJ initiated a new R.E.A.C.H. service site known as Toys for God’s Kids. The goal of the STEMM-themed project is to design, build and distribute wooden toy cars to children in need. The toys are generally boxed up and shipped off, but in this instance, Matt and his classmates were able to personally hand deliver the cars to children in town. Students also distributed friendship bracelets made by Key Club members and library books, and were able to assist Dr. Steve Huffman, CJ parent, in treating patients at the Good Shepherd Clinic. Despite a slight language barrier during these interactions, the foreigners and natives discovered a common bond in music and connected by singing and playing familiar Christian hymns with one another.

“Besides applying primer, we would venture out into the villages and little towns in the afternoons to hopefully find a school or two where we could serve. After about 15 minutes or so of driving -- trying to avoid big holes in the roads and slowing for speed bumps -- we would come up to a Roman Catholic school. We would graciously walk in and the welcoming spirit was felt right away. The kid’s faces would light up. They enjoyed learning simple math and spelling, looking at us as if we were heroes. At one school, we even got to go outside and play recess. From basketball to jump rope and futbol, the kids were always joyful. None of us will ever forget their bright smiles, welcoming hearts and the radiating energy they had for the simple things in life.”

In total, the group spent time at two children's’ orphanages (one for girls and one for boys) and two schools -- St. Francis Xavier and St. Jude. During their leisure time, students and chaperones enjoyed learning more about Belizean culture. Activities included sightseeing at the Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, ziplining over the jungle, cave tubing and swimming on local rivers, searching for wild tarantulas (large but docile spiders) at night, and shopping at local village markets. Days began with Mass and ended with time for reflection.

“The Toy’s For God’s Kids project has been a wonderful experience. It was great to see CJ students enjoy something simple like building a wooden toy car because they knew it would have an impact. And it sure did make an impact in many different ways. We made about 110 cars to take down to Belize. Many mission groups travel to Belize and hand out free items to children, so we had to be aware of how the toys were being distributed. About 20 of the cars went to one of the schools we visited. One-third of the cars went to one of the orphanages that needed toys and supplies. The last part of the toys ended up staying at the Baptist Retreat Center for the director to distribute to local children so that they can make a small profit in the villages. Even though this requires the least amount of direct contact, it is truly best for the Belizean people -- it puts the power and responsibility in their hands.”

Mission trips are meant to be mutually beneficial experiences. Part of the goal is to empower the people who you are serving so that your work makes a lasting difference instead of a short term change. The group was able to leave the children of Belize with the tangible fruits of their labor and intangible impressions made through their interactions. Meanwhile the students developed a better understanding of Belizean culture, the needs of the rural poor and their own spirituality.

“The experience I had with TFGK at CJ and in Belize will be one I remember for the rest of my life. I could definitely see myself carrying this project on in the future and doing something similar as part of my career. Belize was an unbelievable experience that none of us will forget. We are all hoping to incorporate the things we learned in Belize back home. Don’t stop Belize’n!”

2013 Catholic Education Summit at UD

Three Chaminade Julienne educators have been invited to present the City Connects program of optimized student support as a model for other schools at the Catholic Education Summit hosted July 12 by the Center for Catholic Education at the University of Dayton.

Student Support Coordinator Jama Badinghaus, Director of the Academic Office Steve Fuchs, and Assistant Principal Jason Unger (pictured left to right) will discuss how City Connects can help young people remove the socio-economic and socio-emotional roadblocks to success through strengthening community ties. The theme of this year’s conference is “Urban Catholic Education: Meeting the Needs of ALL Learners.”

More than 200 Catholic college, high school and elementary teachers and administrators from urban, rural and suburban institutions are expected to be in attendance. Presentations will focus on four topics: Mission and Catholic Identity; Governance and Leadership; Academic Excellence; and Operational Vitality. Visit www .udayton.edu for complete details.

City Connects is based on a model developed by the American School Counseling Association. The program was first implemented at the high school level at CJ in 2010. It was originally initiated by Boston College in 2001 for grades K-8.

The Dayton Daily News reported July 7 that Sinclair Community College plans to take CJ's lead and become the first in the nation to adapt the program for higher education. Read the article below.

Written by Meagan Pant, DDN staff writer, and first published July 7, 2013.
Sinclair Community College will invest $300,000 to pilot a program that will connect students with the resources they need to overcome barriers in their lives and graduate.

The college will also receive $100,000 from the Mathile Family Foundation in Dayton to adapt the “City Connects” program from a model that aids students in kindergarten through high school to one that helps adults pursuing higher education. The Boston College-based program has already had success at Dayton’s Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School and at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School.

Sinclair will begin with 130 students this fall. The college will first assess what the students’ needs are — which could be academic or personal — and then connect them with resources on campus or in the community, said Kathleen Cleary, associate provost for student success at Sinclair.

“It could make a huge difference,” she said.

The program has promise for community college students because 40 percent of those who drop out have an A or B average, Clearly said. So, “what we know in those cases is it’s not an academic reason that student is dropping out. It’s because life gets in the way,” she said.

Through City Connects, Sinclair could, for instance, help a homeless student find housing, and then follow up to ensure they got the resources they need, she said.

In the future, the program will be expanded to more Sinclair students and could be a model for colleges everywhere.

“We believe the City Connects program at Sinclair will transform lives by helping more students graduate, enter the workforce, and contribute to the economic success of our community,” said Greg Edwards, executive director of the Mathile Family Foundation.

Dayton will be unique because the program will be offered to students from kindergarten through college through three schools.

“There’s no other place in the country that’s connecting services to students like we are in Dayton,” said Chaminade-Julienne Principal John Marshall. “It’s a tremendous accomplishment. It’s going to be a national example of how to serve kids.”

Now entering its fourth year of running the program, Chaminade-Julienne has reduced the rate its students leave between ninth and 10th grade from about 7 percent before City Connects to about 1 percent now, Marshall said. He added that more students are applying to college and getting accepted to more rigorous schools.

Marshall said students needs are assessed every year and adjusted. He added the program is successful because of the “makes sense factor.”

“Instead of the tradition model of a guidance counselor doing everything, we connect the resources to the students and families to help them be successful,” Marshall said. “It could be anywhere from learning needs, to addressing a dietary problem, to connecting them with a local music lesson.”

“It makes sense to address the social and emotion needs of students,” he said.


Re-published at cjeagles.org with permission from Cox Media, Inc.