April 2015

Seniors Present Their Capstone Projects

Students in the Class of 2015 may be thinking about their individual futures, but on Thursday, April 30, they shared with the CJ community how they have made a difference in the future of others during the Stang Symposium.

The symposium was in honor of graduate and martyr Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, '49. During the program, students presented the findings from their Senior Capstone Project- a cross-curricular, inquiry-based research project that calls seniors to become servant leaders in our world today. 

"When we say raising awareness, we really did a lot possible to raise awareness outside of school," said Mikayla Kleinhans about her group's capstone project, which focused on child abuse.

There were a wide variety of capstone group topics including homelessness, human trafficking, fair trade, self image, poverty, literacy and environmental issues.

"Our students lived out the mission of CJ and demonstrated hearts as wide as the world," said Capstone Coordinator Molly Bardine. "The groups educated others on service, justice and peace!"

Students began thinking about their capstone their sophomore year. During their junior year, they wrote a research paper about their topic to help them prepare for their senior project.

"In the beginning, we had to find sources and look up research to give us a better understanding," said Margo Duffy, who was in the capstone group focused on child abuse. "It motivated us even more to help raise awareness."

Some seniors chose their project topic because they have seen first hand how they could make a difference in the Dayton community. Anthony Walton said his group's project, which was focused on art education, was familiar to him as his father has taught art for more than 20 years.

"I've seen the positives and negatives he has experienced," said Walton. "I have also the seen the positive and negatives his students have experienced and how art education benefits them."

Working on the project brought seniors together with other students who they may not have interacted with before. 

"We had a great time working on our project. We grew closer to the kids and as friends in our Capstone Group," said Trey Harper, who's group focused on being positive role models for young men.

The students said they not only hope to use the information they learned while working on these projects in the future, but they hope to inspire the Class of 2016 as those students prepare to work on their projects for next year.

"After we go off to college and go our seperate ways, we want to continue to help others. We also want people to continue to be advocates for others," Walton said.

Alex VanderSluijs Hired As Coach

We welcome Alex VanderSluijs as the new head coach for the CJ men’s soccer program. He most recently served at Defiance College where he was the men's head coach since 2010 and was the women's head soccer coach for four years.  At Defiance,  he coached student athletes in both programs to First and Second Team All Heartland Collegiate Athletic conference honors.

VanderSluijs draws on his experience as a varsity player and all time scorer at Carroll High School, as a three-year starter for Wilmington College and professionally playing for the Cincinnati Kings in 2007 and the Dayton Dutch Lions in 2010.

“This sets our soccer program up for an exciting time of building under the leadership of a highly qualified coach who was looking to relocate to the Dayton area,” said John Marshall, principal. “Clearly he has a deep knowledge of the game and a great understanding of what it takes to play at the college and professional levels. Our student athletes will greatly benefit from his experience and his perspective, playing high school through time with the pros.”

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity CJ has provided me to be involved in such a distinguished Catholic institution and also to have the opportunity to coach the sport I love," said VanderSluijs.

In addition to his coaching duties, VanderSluijs will serve as a member of the development and marketing teams, assisting in managing sponsorships and brand recognition opportunities for the school which projects an increased enrollment for the 2015-16 school year. VanderSluijs graduated with degrees in communication and sports management from Wilmington College, and earned a master’s of education from Defiance College.


Importance of Nutrition

Nutrition is an important aspect of living a happy and healthy life. Unfortunately, not everyone in the United States has access to nutritional foods on a regular basis.  Particularly in urban environments, many people struggle to find fresh or local produce and other alternatives to processed food.

Seniors Julianne Evans, Margaret Geraghty, Sophie Johnson and Abby O’Loughlin are using their Senior Capstone project to improve urban nutrition in the Dayton area. The seniors aim to impact the accessibility of local produce in Dayton and raise awareness about the importance of local and healthy options for nutrition in schools.

“We’ve focused a lot on bringing local produce into CJ,” said Margaret Geraghty. “We want to make the school aware that there is a local produce option and it’s healthier.”

“Our main goal is to educate people,” added Julianne Evans. “It’s better for health and better for the community.”

To achieve their goal the group has developed posters to post around the school cafeteria. They have also contacted local farmers and Grinders, the company currently providing the food for CJ lunches.

“We’re trying to get produce from a local farm for at least one lunch day at CJ,” said Evans. “We’re talking to Hydrogrowers Produce and trying to work something out. We’re going to have posters in the cafeteria, probably near the salad bar explaining the new produce.”

The young women were inspired by their experience participating in the Urban Plunge, a mission trip to Cincinnati where students experience a weekend of living in poverty.

“We were exposed to the injustices that urban families go through,” said Evans. “We were made aware of low nutrition in urban areas, and how important it is for families to get the proper nutrition.”

“Basically, we ‘plunged’ into an area in Cincinnati with a very large population of people living in poverty,” added Abby O’Loughlin. “We got the opportunity to work with and provide help for a number of people living below the poverty line and experiencing homelessness. It was very clear that they had little access to fresh, healthy food, and it was playing a critical role in their health.”

“I think that was most rewarding part for me, even though it wasn’t really part of the project,” said Geraghty. “It was inspirational and impactful.”

To spread awareness, the seniors have organized two service days at the Mission of Mary Cooperative on April 23 and April 24.

“We helped them with their garden,” said Geraghty. “We sent out a sign up sheet and other students joined us on both days.”

Hoping to reach a wider audience, Sophie Johnson also wrote an article about their project that appeared in the CJ school newspaper.

“The most rewarding part of the project has definitely been how much I have learned,” said Johnson. “I never knew about Mission of Mary farm, an urban farm in Dayton, and I had never really understood how big of a problem the limited access to fresh produce is.”  According to Johnson, providing service on the farm was a great experience. “It felt good to know I was helping to get nutritional food to people who don't get the opportunity day to day to have healthy, great food that is fresh,” she said.

The senior’s mentor, Jama Badinghaus, said she is impressed their hard work and dedication. “I’ve been impressed by their interest in finding information from local farms and the response from local farmers who were interested in engaging with them. It’s a difficult issue due to barriers like cost and accessibility and – if nothing else – this project will open a door for a conversation about local and healthy food,” she said.

Now the search begins to find a group of students interested in the same topic who can continue their work next year.

“We would really like to pass the group on to a group of next years seniors so they can carry out our work and keep bringing local food into the cafeteria,” said Evans.

Ultimately, the seniors hope to leave a lasting impression on their classmates. “I would say the most rewarding part of this project is educating students and teachers on a social justice issue that so many people look past, even though it is very prevalent in the city we live in,” said O’Loughlin. “When most people think about hunger or poverty, they think first of third world countries. It’s our goal to help people see that poverty is right here in our own neighborhoods, and I think it is important that we are opening others eyes to this fact, and providing different ways to help out.”

Idol Focuses on Children's Mental Health

The mental health status of a child is just as important as it is for an adult. CJ's final STEMM Idol of the school year, Dr. Gregory Ramey, reiterated this thought when he spoke with students during homerooms on Tuesday, April 28.

Dr. Ramey received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Lake Forest College in 1971. He continued his studies and received his Master’s degree in education from Harvard University and his MS, Ph.D. in child clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

In 1979, Dr. Ramey began working at Dayton Children's Hospital as a child psychologist. During his 36-year tenure at the hospital, he has moved up the ranks and is now the Executive Director of Dayton Children's Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources. Part of Dr. Ramey's responsibilities include administrating over the hospital's mental health division. He also continues his work with children and families as a clinical psychologist.

During his time at Dayton Children's, Dr. Ramey said the biggest change he has seen in children is how they interact with technology. "We can't ignore it, we're not going to put our cell phones away," Dr. Ramey said. "We have to help our children master the technology so it doesn't control them."

Dr. Ramey is a member of the American Psychological Association and Ohio Psychological Association. He provides a weekly column for Cox Media Group which is distributed by the New York Times wire service. You can read some of Dr. Ramey's work here. He has also contributed to articles in Ladies Home Journal, Parenting and Redbook.

Dr. Ramey was interviewed and involved in a national news program on NBC on teen suicide and has conducted more than 200 workshops or presentations on children's mental health.  In his workshops, Dr. Ramey focuses on parenting skills related to raising productive and well-adjusted children.

"We should not be demonizing mental health problems because all of us, at some point in our lives, deal with difficult situations," Dr. Ramey said. "The challenge is to figure out how to deal with those tough times in a positive, productive manner rather than shy away from them like they don't exist."

Are you interested in becoming a CJ STEMM Idol Speaker Series presenter during the 2015-2016 school year? Contact Meg Draeger, CJ STEMM coordinator, at (937) 461-3740 x487, or at mdraeger@cjeagles.org.


Students Direct One Act Plays

our students are taking a step off the stage to direct instead, as CJ Performing Arts hosts its first A Night of One Acts on Saturday, April 25.

Seniors Julianne Evans, Catherine Grady, and Addi Helms, and sophomore Jacob Troutwine were chosen to be the inaugural directors of the production. The directors and cast have had one month to prepare for the show.

"We found that the timing was right with where the musical was this year to add another show to the season," said drama teacher Caitlin Cronin Bennett.

Some of the plays have comical themes while others have a more dramatic story line. Director Jacob Troutwine's play, The Happy Journey by Thornton Wilder, looks at one woman's struggle and acceptance after a family tragedy.

"It has more reflection on one character in particular and exploiting their life's journey.  It's interesting to see that dynamic grow," said Troutwine.

Bennett said having the students direct their peers has given everyone involved some new perspective.

"Peer leadership was key in this process," she shared. "Being able to express ideas, in this case creative ones, will serve them very well in the future."

Troutwine agreed with that sentiment. "I think it has a lot of practical applications in life. It definitely gives you different insight so you're able to work with people and understand them more."

Bennett said she hopes student one acts will become an annual event and she is proud of the work accomplished by the cast and directors.  "It has been amazing to watch! The directors have done a wonderful job being leaders of their peers."

For those who have any interest in performing arts next year, Troutwine offered this advice, "I think everyone should try it because even if you feel it's not for you, it could help you with the skill of speaking and interacting with others and understanding story lines."

What you need to know to attend A Night of One Acts

When: Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

Where: CJ Auditorium

Cost: $5 admission for adults and students

STEMM Event Held For 7th Graders

If you want a drink of water, there is usually a faucet or water fountain nearby where you are able to quench your thirst. You also usually do not have to question whether or not the water is safe to drink. Some people who live in remote villages in Africa can now also have safe drinking water thanks to a Pur packet filter system which removes the harmful toxins from water in less than a half hour.

The lesson was just one of several that 7th grade students from St. Albert the Great, St. Christopher, and St. Peter schools learned when they visited CJ on Tuesday.

This week marks National Environmental Education Week and Earth Day. In conjunction with this movement, CJ hosted the middle school students for an annual event themed “Greening STEM.”  Students learned how they can protect, preserve, and produce clean water, calculated their ecological footprints, and compared the energy required to support local versus global food systems.

"You all can pursue a career in environmental science and engineering and help solve some real big global challenges in the future, like access to clean water and feeding 9 billion people in the world by 2050," Director of Admissions Brett Chmiel '02 told the group.

The 125 students were divided into five groups named after careers which can be pursued with a background in STEM courses: Chemists, Environmental Engineers, Environmental Scientists, Biologists and Civil Engineers. Each group attended five activity sessions, selected by CJ STEMM Coordinator Meg Draeger, which focused on helping the environment. Four CJ alumni offered their expertise in the science and environmental fields and facilitated some sessions.

Amy Lynch '99 and Barb Miller '96, both work at the Air Force Research Laboratory. During their session, students learned about the process of making bio-fuel and how the gases from that material are produced.   Miller said she wanted to come back to CJ to show students they can start thinking about their futures now. 

"Science is a viable career. It's not just someone in the lab wearing glasses and safety apparel. I want the students to see someone approachable," Miller expressed.

Marsha Loges '63, SND, Keith Hanley, SND, and Alyssa Jenkins, UD ETHOS, gave students a firsthand look at how a small packet of chemicals put in dirty water can purify it within minutes. The packets  only costs 10 cents and can purify up to 2.5 gallons of water at a time, according to Hanley. The group also showed students how a solar electricity generating system, created through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Photovoltaic Project, can immensely better the lives of those same people in Africa.  You can learn more about the Photovoltaic Project here.

Felicia Graham '86 works for the City of Dayton as an Environmental Compliance Coordinator. During her presentation, she explained and demonstrated what students can do daily to help preserve water resources.

"Once our water resources are destroyed, they are destroyed forever," Graham said. "We're trying to enlist people to protect our water resources. If we start building environmental stewards now, we'll make a better resource of water for them in the future."

Chmiel gave students a challenge before they left CJ, "take what you learn today, and these real life issues, back to your schools and do something powerful with them."


7 CJ Students Chosen For Program

CJ STEMM courses not only educate students in science, technology, engineering, math and medical fields, but also prepares them to use their education in work-related situations.

Recently, seven students were accepted to participate in the Wright Scholar Research Assistant Program this summer. Organizers of this prestigious program only choose a small group of students to participate in the program each year.

"CJ STEMM's collegiate style experimentation has prepared our students to succeed in prestigious programs like the Wright Scholar Research Assistant Program," said teacher Amanda Ooten.

The internship gives juniors and seniors the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with current scientists and engineers in the Air Force Research Laboratory. The nine-week program brings in some of the top scientists and engineers in their fields to share their expertise with students.

Those chosen for the program this year from CJ are:

  • Adam Pendergrass '15 and Helen Wittman '15, who will be working with Sensors Directorate,
  • Allison Huffman '16 and William Huffman '16, who will be working with the 711th Human Performance Wing,
  • Alex Jennison, '16 and Ian Simon '16, who will be working with the GRILL at TecEdge,
  • LiNan McSherry, '15 who will be working with Materials.

McSherry was selected to participate in the Wright Scholar Program for a second year in a row.

"CJ's STEMM program exposes our students to cutting edge engineering and biomedical techniques," said Ooten about the preparation CJ students receive for internships like the Wright Scholar Research Assistant Program. "Our students not only learn how to use these scientific tools, but they are actually using them to investigate answers to their self-proposed questions."

"Because our students have the opportunity to be exposed to different lab techniques in our high school classrooms, many doors are opened for them in college and beyond," said teacher Amy O'Loughlin about experiences like this for CJ students. "Former students have been offered lab assistant positions as freshman and sophomores because of their lab knowledge. The opportunities and success stories have been amazing to hear about."


CJ wins at Xtreme Bots Competition

CJ students are helping pave the way in the future of engineering, with the help of some robots.

Recently, members of the CJ Extreme Bots club participated in the Xtreme Bots Competition at Wright State University. Club moderator Eric Grimm said even though CJ has participated in this competition before, this was the first year two robots were submitted to compete.

According to the Xtreme Bots' website, "this exciting, fast-paced team competition immerses high school students in a convergence of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and spark-throwing awesomeness."

"The robots were designed and built by students. It gives them an opportunity to learn about electronics and mechanical design and radio control," said Grimm.

Students began meeting in February with the goal to participate in the Xtreme Bots competition. During the building phase, students had to plan how their robot would work and how it could be superior to other robots.

The Xtreme Bots competition consists of rounds where two robots battle each other. Each round lasts three minutes. Grimm said a winner is determined if one robot impairs the other robot or a three-judge panel will decide a winner if both robots are functioning at the end of the round.

"The students did a great job at this year's competition," Grimm expressed.

CJ's team, Element 13, named their robot Mystical Space Typhoon. Members Aaron Gerhard, Josh Hughes, Cole Mason and Patrick Murray participated in the competition, winning one round and losing two. The students' design, which was constructed by Narrow Way Custom Technology, had a pointed front and a lawn mower blade on top for protection against other robots.

The other team representing CJ, The Elemental Heroes, named their robot Blazeman. Members E.J. Cervantes, Tyler Curtis, Evan Skrobot and Jordan Thomasson had judges relooking at the rule books because of the robot's design. Their robot, constructed with help from the Hobby Shop, had a scoop as the main defensive technique, which the judges had never seen before.

"CJ had a really unique design. A lot of the other robots used a wedge or spinning weapon. But The Elemental Heroes used the innovative idea of a scoop. The plan was to trap and immobilize the other robot," said Grimm.

The inventive design wowed the crowd as well, earning The Elemental Heroes the People's Choice Award.

"Our robot is so powerful without being violent," said Thomasson '16 while accepting the award on behalf of the team. Blazeman won three rounds but was defeated in a final round.

Grimm said after the success at this year's competition, he has high hopes about the quality of robots the club can produce in the years to come. He invited anyone with an interest in robots and engineering to consider joining the club.

"There is no experience is necessary. We have a wide variety of people who have some experience but we’re always looking for new members and new ideas.”

The Extreme Bots club will most likely participate in the Xtreme Bots competition this fall and next spring, with the possibility of traveling to other competitions in the state, according to Grimm.


Capstone Focuses on Literacy

Statistically, many underprivileged children in the U.S. grow up without an emphasis on the importance of reading or with any books of their own. As a consequence, children brought up in lower income families are often at a disadvantage later in life when it comes to literacy. Seniors Danielle Ames, Haleigh Shaw, Erin Staley and Rachel Stayer are using their Senior Capstone project to contribute a creative solution to this nation-wide problem.

In an effort to help convey the importance of reading to local elementary school children, the seniors focused their Capstone project on literacy. The young women put together a presentation coupled with a book drive designed to encourage students to be more excited about reading and to give them the materials to do so.

While presenting to fourth grade students at Our Lady of the Rosary Elementary School, the CJ seniors asked the children about their favorite books and encouraged them to answer questions about the importance of reading. The elementary school students responded enthusiastically to the seniors' presentation.

“They seemed to really enjoy it,” said Danielle Ames. “I think a lot of kids lose interest in reading now because of all the technology that they have access to. I was really happy to see how enthusiastic these students were about the books they were reading.”

“They were really engaged,” added Rachel Stayer. “I think our presentation encouraged them, especially because they kept saying that they were inspired.”

The seniors chose this particular elementary school because they wanted to target a population of students who may not have been afforded many privileges. “For many of these students, the book they took home from our book drive is the first book they have ever owned,” said Stayer.

“Our project was based on going out and talking about the importance of literacy,” said Haleigh Shaw. “I think it’s most important to be able to talk to these children now so they can get started reading more early on.”

“It’s definitely important to catch them early on,” agreed Ames. “I think it’s really good for them to see us older kids reading, we can be role models for them.”

Holocaust Memorial Contest Winners

It's been 70 years after the end of the Holocaust and World War II, but we're still learning about prejudice and racism today.

That was the theme provided by the Dayton Holocaust Resource Center for this year's Max May Memorial Holocaust Art Contest and Lydia May Memorial Holocaust Writing Contest. Eight students from CJ were selected winners this year in each of those contests.

In the art contest, Natalie Davis won first place, Adela Leon-Witt won third place, and Courtney Morah and Claire Armstrong received honorable mentions.

"This gives students a chance to express their ideas on the theme each year and then create artwork that will engage the viewer," said Art teacher Diana Barr. "Often they talk about these subjects in other classes as well and through their artwork they can educate the bystander who may not have even had plans to view the exhibit."

In the writing contest, Mikayla Kleinhans won first place, Francesca Weizman  won second place, Joseph Sattler won third place and Dehja Moore received an honorable mention.

"I am quite proud to keep this great CJ tradition alive," said English teacher Jim Brooks. "This gives students a better understanding of the Holocaust and to live the lessons we have learned from this tragic event."

The students' writing and artwork were on display at a ceremony at the Beth Abraham Synagogue earlier this month.  Three Holocaust survivors spoke during the ceremony and met with participants afterwards.

"It is very powerful and is an example of how they as individuals can do something to help our world," said Barr. "It all starts with one!"

Congratulations to all who participated in the contests!