May 2015

CJ among America's "Most Challenging"

For the fourth consecutive year, Chaminade Julienne has been named as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools on the private high school list  by The Washington Post. The ranking is used to identify schools that challenge all students, according to Jay Matthews, author of the rankings and journalist for the newspaper.

Principal John Marshall ’86 said that while the recognition for Chaminade Julienne is rewarding, all ranking should be understood within context and perspective.

“The Washington Post indicates that we have a strong Advanced Placement (AP) program. We do, but the ranking does not reveal the large number of students who are welcomed to enroll in these top courses at CJ.

“We give more students the opportunity to push themselves by taking these courses, even if trends predict from the onset that they will not earn a top score on the exams,” said Marshall. “It speaks to the fact that we work with each of our students in exploring their interests and setting goals that continue to challenge them.”

Top scores on the exams can earn students college credits. During the 2014-2015 school year, 190 students enrolled in nine AP courses offered, with nearly half enrolled in more than one AP course. While mostly juniors and seniors enroll in AP classes, sophomore students have the opportunity to enroll in an AP American Studies course.

“The AP option is something that prospective families ask me about,” said Brett Chmiel '02, director of admissions. “CJ gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves beyond what some may consider their 'capacity.' We believe in students who believe in themselves."

CJ Challenge Index

Matthews uses a ranking system based on a challenge index. The index formula is determined by a school's total number of AP, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given each year divided by the number of seniors who graduate each spring. Since 2012, CJ's Challenge Index score has continued to rise.

America's Most Challenging High Schools- The Washington Post
Year CJ Challenge Index
2012 1.593
2013 1.656
2014 1.684
2015 1.826

Chaminade Julienne has received national recognition for pioneering and implementing Project Lead the Way curriculum, which also earns students college credit in engineering and bio medical sciences. Marshall sent a request to Matthews to consider including data from those student participants in the most recent list.

While this year's rankings did not include that data, Marshall said giving students opportunities to enroll in college course level classes has driven the student body to achieve even more academically.

"I'm proud that our teachers and academic program have afforded students many opportunities to work harder, and our students continue to choose to do that. Some would think by offering more advancement courses, such as the Project Lead the Way curriculum, that enrollment in AP courses would decline. However, we have seen an increase in students participating in AP courses year after year."


Class of 2015 Celebrates Commencement

Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School celebrates its Commencement ceremony Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center.  Chaminade Julienne's Class of 2015 has 165 students and nearly 99% of the class has applied for post-secondary education.

Graduating first in her class is Caroline Chick (Holy Angels, The Ohio State University) followed by Grace Saunders (Holy Angels, Miami University.) Margot Duffy will deliver the welcome speech and Elizabeth Sinnathamby will deliver the farewell speech during the graduation ceremony.

This year's graduates will be attending 49 different colleges and universities. Many graduates are staying in the area, enrolling at Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton, and Wright State University, while others will stay in state, attending Bowling Green State University, University of Cincinnati, and Akron University, to name a few. There are also several Chaminade Julienne graduates who will be attending schools across the nation and the world including Saint Mary's College, Purdue University, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Waikato in New Zealand. 

Several students have been recognized for their outstanding accomplishments at Chaminade Julienne. The faculty and staff annually honor three seniors who best exemplify the three pillars of the  
school's mission:

  • for her commitment to faith, dedication to learning, and demonstration of school and family spirit, Catherine Grady received the Founder's Award;
  • David Marshall received the Michael D. Trainor Award, named in honor of Chaminade Julienne's principal from 1999-2004, which is given to a student who has regularly demonstrated intellectual curiosity;
  • and for best exemplifying the Chaminade Julienne spirit, Gretchen Theil received the Gerard "Fuzzy" Faust Award, named in honor of the legendary CJ teacher and coach who served from 1933-1980.

Other achievements of the Class of 2015 include:

  • More than $9.9 million offered  in university and private scholarships, and grants to 102 graduates.
  • 9,877 hours of community service during the Class of 2015's four years at Chaminade Julienne, including Puja Harjani who contributed 504 hours in her four years.
  • 5 graduates, Matthew Boudinot, Erin Carmody,  Emily Meyer, Monica Rains and Grace Saunders, being named Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Program.
  • 1 graduate, Aaron Talib, being named an Outstanding Participant through the National Achievement Scholarship Program.
  • 2 graduates, Helen Wittman and Daniel Meyer, receiving the OHSAA Scholar-Athlete Scholarship award.
  • 2 graduates, Erin Staley and John Hawthorn, receiving OHSAA Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award.
  • 1 graduate, Mitchell Knight, receiving the OHSAA Courageous Student Award.
  • 1 graduate, Puja Harjani, receiving the OHSAA State Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
  • 2 graduates, Emily Meyer and Matthew Boudinot, receiving the NFHS National Award of Excellence certificate.
  • 22 four-year varsity letter winners.
  • 64 graduates who are members of the National Honors Society.
  • 23 graduates who are Presidential Academic Award recipients.
  • 18 graduates who are Presidential Achievement Award recipients.

Congratulations, and Go Eagles!


Mini Golf Course Design Project

CJ students who took a field trip to a putt-putt golf entertainment center didn't just go for fun, it was a chance for them to learn about the creation process of miniature golf courses.

Students in the Introduction to Engineering Design class, as part of the Project Lead the Way curriculum, were given the concept to design a miniature golf course as part of a team. The team members could only discuss the project as an entire group, face-to-face, one time, which was during the field trip. All other communication had to be done electronically, simulating what it's like when companies have employees all over the world working on the same project from different locations.

"This was a real opportunity for them to experience some of those challenges," said teacher Eric Grimm. "They learned a lot about communicating across boundaries and barriers, and working together as a team."


Patrick Hillier, an architect with John Poe Architects and a member of the American Institute of Architect's Dayton Chapter, attended the field trip and was a resource for the students.

"Besides enjoying playing miniature golf , I actually helped work on one course design during my first job many years ago," said Hillier.

The students had two weeks to pick their miniature golf course theme and design the nine holes. 

"Our group did a video game theme, and it was interesting how we fit together all different types of games and eras of games," said Paul Wittmann '18, who was the project manager for his group. "We had classics like Pong and Pac-Man, to modern games like Minecraft and Zelda."

During the students' presentations, they explained what challenges a putt-putt player might face and the difficulty level of each course.

"I was excited to see how the doodles from the students' sketchbooks had developed into Autodesk inventor drawings," said Hillier. "We use a similar Autodesk product in our office, so I saw familiar images when they did their presentations."

"I really thought the project was able to show me what it is like to be an actual engineer," agreed Katarina Dranchak '16. "I enjoyed working with a group, and having to work together for a common goal in a certain amount of time, just like a real engineer would."

Grimm said he was pleased with the presentations, especially with the real-world challenges given to the students.

"That's an experience a lot of students don't get in their education," he said. "Students worked through those challenges to do this project with an end goal in mind."


Final Signings for the Class of 2015

Several CJ student athletes will continue their education and their passion to play a sport after they leave high school. Throughout the 2014-2015 school year, many senior athletes held a signing event, proud to confirm their intentions for the upcoming school year.

Most recently, swimmer Erin Staley signed with Ashland University.

"Getting to continue my swimming career, I never knew if it would happen," said Staley.

Alan Vest, whose father and brother both played basketball for Wright State University, will keep his family's legacy alive by also playing for the Raiders.

"It is a great opportunity. I'm really excited to be joining the Raider community," said Vest.

This year, Vest and the CJ men's basketball team advanced to the state semi-finals. Staley also made it to state, swimming in individual and relay races. Both athletes received post-season honors from the GCL while Vest also earned All Southwest District and All-Ohio honors.

Both athletes recognized their teammates and coaches who helped guide them to their success. The athletes said they hope to bring the same sense of community, which they found at CJ, to their college teams.

Staley said, "CJ has a great community system. I hope I can be a support system for years to come at Ashland."

Other student athletes to hold signing events this year included:

  • Beth Stumf (Volleyball) Slippery Rock University
  • Cole Chandler (Football) Tiffin University
  • Trey Harper (Football) Robert Morris University
  • Margaret Geraghty (Rowing) University of Louisville

Students Learn More About Burundi

Seven refugees from Burundi, Africa are now calling Dayton home after coming to the area last year. On Wednesday, May 13, four men from Burundi visited CJ to talk to students in Tony Ricciuto’s freshmen International World Cultures Honors Class.

The refugees were connected to CJ because of Herb Schwendeman ’71. He has been helping teach English to non-English speaking refugees for more than two-and-a-half years. 

“I had an opportunity to do something different. When I started, I found out that I really enjoyed it,” Schwendeman said. "Brother Bettice emphasized the importance of being in service to others.  I wanted to do something different in my retirement years and still be in service. This opportunity afforded both."

The four men who spoke to Ricciuto’s class talked about the struggles they faced in Burundi, which for many of them, included being orphaned due to genocide. The men, who have high school diplomas and college degrees, also described their tribulations in finding work.

“It was difficult to get a job [in Burundi] because of discrimination,” said Emmanuel Bishariza, to the students. “If you finished your studies and you were not in the ruling party, you cannot get a job.”

Armand Muvunyi studied computer science in Burundi and said he plans to continue pursuing that degree in the United States.  Ramadhan Ndayisaba came to Dayton in 2008 before becoming a U.S. citizen in 2013.

“Being in Dayton helped open up doors,” said Ndayisaba. Since graduating from a Dayton-area high school in 2012, Ndayisaba has been working and went to Sinclair. He has hopes to become a police officer.

While in Dayton last year for A World A’Fair, 35 drummers from Burundi showed the local community their culture and history behind their talent. Seven people from that group, including Bishariza and Muvunyi, chose not to go back to Burundi because of the violence in that country. The seven are seeking asylum in the U.S. and many are taking an English speaking course taught by Schwendeman.

While talking about the transformation he has seen in the group over the last year, Schwendeman said, “their self confidence has been the biggest change I have seen in them. They’re eager to become a part of the United States.”

“It’s a good country,” Ndayisaba agreed. “It feels like we’re home, this is our home!”

Fabrice, 31, also told the students, “what I can say is you are blessed to have peace in your county. I can say you are blessed.”

You can see a performance from last year’s World A’Fair from Burundi drummers here.


Picnic With the Pops

CJ students took to the big stage when they performed in front of family and friends during the annual Picnic with the Pops concert.

The evening kicked off with entertainment from the comedy improv team, Busted Box, and cover band, Monday Night Project. Local food truck vendors C'est Cheese, Rib-N-IT BBQ, and Zombie Dogz provided dinner options for the crowd.

"I was really excited about the food trucks because that's part of our city too. CJ is a big part of this community, so it's great to have an event like this for all the families," said parent, Carrie Hartley.

"I think it's wonderful to have a concert like this," echoed parent Joe Daniels. "It gives the kids a chance to perform, and you never know what opportunities they will have from here."

CJ's band, string ensemble,  and choir members opened the concert with the song, Footloose. Other featured groups Hands in Harmony, Age V, and Vega, also shined on the stage with songs including, Awesome God, Eye of the Tiger, and Whenever You Remember. The night concluded with the song, Disney Dazzle!, in honor of performing arts groups traveling to Florida next month to perform at Disney World.

Kathleen Martin, whose son is a senior in the band, commented how the event was a great success. "To end the school year with this concert and great weather outside, it's the perfect way to tie together the whole year. What more could you ask for?"

"I think this concert is a great combination of all the hard work and effort the students have put in the whole year," said performing arts director Debi Schutt. "I think it's a testament to how hard they work and how passionate they are to perform, that this all comes together. I'm very proud to showcase all of them."

Statues On Display In The Welcome Center

The window in the Welcome Center has a different look this month. That's because during May, six statues of Mary are on display as well as fresh flowers. The presentation is in honor of the devotion this month to Mary.

According to the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton, "the roots of the May devotion reach back to a Marian custom determined by devotion to the Passion, to honoring the Cross, and to prayers for good weather."

May Crowning also happens during this month, a tradition which holds fond memories for religion teacher, Karen Emmerich. 

"It was a very important time," said Emmerich. "The entire community came to May Crowning."

Director of Guidance, Charlene Wheeler '65, said she also remembers May Crowning from her childhood. She said while having a conversation with her sodality group, they began talking about May Crowning and honoring Mary during the month of May.

"For a school that is founded by both the Marianists and the Sisters honoring our Lady, it felt right to bring it back," said Wheeler. "This month is to show that this is an important time to remember our blessed Mother."

Teacher Angela Ruffolo lent one of her statues to be on the display. The other five statues were borrowed from UD's Marian Library at the Research Institute.

"The variety is amazing; they have so many from all over the world," said Emmerich about the diverse selection of statues at UD's Library.

"I think all of us have a vision of Mary, of what she looks like," said Ceyrah Feeney '15. "It's cool to see how different cultures see Her and then our perspective may change a little bit."

Wheeler and Emmerich both said this a tradition they hope will continue at CJ for years to come.

"It would be awesome to keep this going," said Emmerich. "There are so many resources at the Marian Library that we have the opportunity to continue to collaborate."

Students Create Recycling Machines

CJ engineering students were given a chance to take the future of recycling into their own hands when they recently worked on a recyclability project.

The assignment had students "working" for a fictional parks department. The "workers" were asked to create a machine that would recognize the difference between the same size objects, but the objects would be made of different materials. The same size object in this scenario was portrayed through marbles.

"They have a lot of similarities but they have to use the differences between the marbles to create a machine which would sort these out," said engineering teacher Eric Grimm.

The assignment was in conjunction with the Project Lead the Way curriculum. Students across the nation who are part of the Project Lead the Way courses were participating in the same challenge.

CJ sophomores and juniors in the class had about 10 periods to work on this project and had the opportunity to work with one partner. Most students used mechanical items like sensors and motors to have their machine sort the marbles, while some used magnets to identify the differences.

"We did a size sorter to separate the big marbles from the small and then used properties, such as different marbles' density and weight, and a magnet to separate them," said Nathaniel Reuter '17 about the machine he and partner Willie Lindsey '17 created.

Grimm said he was impressed with the different strategies students used to develop their machines. "There have been a wide variety of approaches. It very well could have come down to one person has an idea and everyone else tries it. But in this case, everyone has come up with a lot of ideas that I would have never even thought of."

Reuter recognized that it took a lot of patience to make his machine just right. "You have an idea in your head and you think it will all work. But once you start putting it together and making it, it's not as exact and precise as you think it would be."

"Part of this project encourages the students to try something and if they fail, they have the opportunity to improve their design until it works," said Grimm.

Overall, the students said they enjoyed the chance to be creative and have fun with a project like this.

"The beauty of this design project is it allows students to be innovative; it allows them to learn more than I could just teach them by doing it myself," Grimm said.


CJ Service Awards Ceremony

CJ students exemplify community service by putting their faith in action and sharing their talents with others, asking nothing in return. The students who went above and beyond that sentiment were recognized at the annual CJ Service Awards on May 6.

Students who volunteered 25 hours or more than their class requirement were honored in the ceremony. The Bronze Award was given to students who volunteered 25-49 hours, the Silver Award was given to students who volunteered 50-99 hours, and the Gold Award was given to students who volunteered 100 or more hours. Puja Harjani '15 received special recognition during the ceremony because she volunteered  504 hours throughout her four years at CJ.

"For a lot of our kids who do this amount of service, it's handed down from their families and parents," said Kelli Kinnear, Director of Ministry and Service. "They just start doing it and they enjoy what they're doing.'

The CJ Service Awards not only recognized how students make an impact on the community, but how local organizations make a difference as well.

During the ceremony. Sr. Claire Foley, SND, presented CJ with a plaque recognizing the school's effort to provide clean water to children and their families in third world countries.

"Providing clean water for the school, for the hospital, and expanding the vision to provide electricity gives these people the access to life," said Sr. Foley.

CJ's Philanthropy Club, through a partnership with Magnified Giving, presented TJ's Place of Hope an $600 award during the ceremony. Located in Centerville, TJ's Place of Hope provides teens a safe place to recover from addictions and other destructive behaviors. TJ's Place of Hope was just one of the organizations where CJ students volunteered this school year.

"We are here to love one another. Once we find purpose in our lives, and pair that up with a passion we have for different things, it all starts to become clear for us," said Greg Crabtree, Chairman of TJ's Place of Hope, after receiving the award.

Individual honors were also distributed during the ceremony. Those included Natalya Foster '15 who received the LaSertoma Youth Service Award, Lauren Peltier '16 who received the Sr. Ruth Ann Bange Service Award, Noah Walusis '17 who received the George Early Scholarship, religion teacher Mick Mominee who received the LaLanne Award, and social studies teacher Angela Ruffolo who received the faculty/staff Founders Award.

Nearly 30 elementary students were in attendance for the awards ceremony. Those students, along with a group of CJ juniors and seniors, were a part of this year's Little Sibs program.  Each younger student had an opportunity on the CJ stage to share how their Big Sib has played a role in their life. The awards ceremony concluded with a blessing for summer mission trip participants.

While the CJ Service Awards highlighted how some students share their passion of volunteering with others, the ceremony also inspires others to continue community service once they leave CJ for the summer, or after graduation.

Kinnear told the students, "Sr. Dorothy once said, 'There are things you do because they feel right; they make no sense and they make no money but it may be the real reason we are here, to love each other… and to say it was good.' The service you do may make no sense to the rest of the world, and it certainly doesn’t make you any money, but it is the right thing to do."


Number of service hours completed by the CJ community during the 2014-15 school year beyond what is required of students through religion curriculum. The total represents a contribution of $256,365 to the local, national and world economy according to the Independent Sector’s valuation of an hour of service.

Community Service Homeroom Representatives.  These sophomores, juniors and seniors are responsible for regularly communicating service news and information to their peers.

Number of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who were Bronze Award recipients.

Number of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who were Silver Award recipients.

Number of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who were Gold Award recipients.

Number of years the Little Sibs Program has been in place at CJ.  27 “Littles” in grades K-2 at Ruskin Elementary and Immaculate Conception were enjoyed a picnic lunch together in the courtyard following the awards ceremony.

Senior members of F.L.I.G.H.T. ‘15.  Throughout the year, students selected to participate in this non-credit service leadership class help plan and organize activities including liturgies, retreats, service projects, donation drives and more.

Recipients of the Red Cord Honor Certificate of Achievement.  These students donated blood at the CJ Blood Drive three of their four years of high school.

Leaders of CJ’s Marianist L.I.F.E. (Living in Faith Experience) group.  This faith-formation group participates in an annual summer retreat at the Bergamo Retreat Center in preparation for the school year.

Juniors Participate in C.O.P.E. Simulation

Two years ago, CJ teacher, Mick Mominee, and Director of Ministry and Service, Kelli Kinnear, were inspired to think outside the box and started an important tradition at CJ. Mominee and Kinnear attended a Think Tank C.O.P.E. event at Sinclair Community College. C.O.P.E. stands for Cost Of Poverty Experience, and an experience it certainly was.

The simulation places participants into family groups where they are each given a specific role and task to achieve. Every group has different assets, such as a car, and different burdens, such as low wage jobs.

“You had to make ends meet for a month,” said Mominee. “You’re given some money, some people are given cars or bus passes, and you have a list of goals and things to accomplish like going to work, paying bills, and getting groceries.”

In a matter of a few hours, the participants simulate what it would be like to live in poverty for a month.

“We got a chance to experience it and decided we’d love to bring it back to our kids as part of our social justice course,” said Mominee. “You’re living real life poverty for the month and the stress is very real.”

The first year of C.O.P.E. at CJ was a massive success; students came away from the experience with empathy and understanding for families who live in poverty. Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of the simulation is its ability to break down negative stereotypes about people in poverty.

“There are a lot of stereotypes out there like 'poor people are lazy' and 'why don't they just get a job?' said Mominee. “The simulation gives you a better idea of the struggles people go through. It’s not as simple as 'work hard' and the simulation makes students realize this because they couldn’t make ends met no matter how hard they tried. I think a lot of people assume everyone gets a fair shot and it’s just not true. There are certain barriers in place in our system. If you don’t get a chance to go to college or if you make mistakes and you don’t have a family who supports you, or you were born into poverty…it’s hard to succeed.”

Matt Allaire '16 experienced some of these boundaries during the simulation.

“I was in jail three times for things I didn’t do,” Allaire said. “I missed my probation meeting because I was in jail, so I was sent to jail for missing it. It was really frustrating.”

Simulations like this help students realize how many people struggle in poverty due to situations outside of their own control.

“I’m sure this kind of thing happens and I can see how that could be a very real circumstance for someone,” said Allaire.

The core of the simulation is based on information gathered from real Miami Valley families living in poverty. The creators of C.O.P.E. interviewed families and asked them about their biggest struggles. This information was used to make the simulation as realistic as possible.

According to Mominee, the realistic detail included in the simulation is what makes it most affective. Students are asked to think about every aspect of life in an amazing amount of detail, giving them a realistic understanding of the trials caused by poverty.  “I’ve been teaching social justice for 15 years and this is the most realistic simulation I’ve ever done. You can read books and articles, but this gives it a human face,” said Mominee.

Karen Emmerich, a fellow social justice teacher at CJ agrees that the simulation is more impactful than simply reading about poverty.

“The frustration and the emotional experience in doing this is something you can’t get from a movie or a book,” Emmerich said. “There is empathy for people in poverty that is drawn out of the students during this exercise.”

“Think of how empathetic everyone would be if they had to go through this experience,” added Mominee. “It makes you realize there are people who work very hard and still can’t get ahead."

The simulation also calls attention to the desperation that poverty can cause. Many students resorted to stealing money or food in order to make ends meet.

“The main thing that stuck out to me was how many people were stealing,” Allaire said about the simulation. “People you would never expect to see doing that were involved in organized crime groups.”

“We asked the students, ‘would you ever do this in real life?’ And they said ‘well no’ but they did it here,” Mominee said.“They’ll say it’s because they needed the money to provide for their family. Kids definitely compromise their morals for the sake of the simulation.”

While these moral compromises may seem concerning, they provide a valuable lesson about the true desperation poverty causes. Most students who resorted to criminal activity felt emotionally distraught and from that emotional experience, many students develop a new sense of understanding and empathy. These issues are addressed in a large group discussion after the simulation that allows the participants to process their emotions and reactions.

“It puts that kind of illegal behavior in context and gives them empathy for people who do break the law,” said Mominee. “Not that it’s OK to commit a crime, but that they now understand why people are put in that position.”

The group discussion also addresses larger societal issues.

“What does it say about our country that there are people who are put in the position of having to break the law just to survive?” said Mominee.“In some places, there are people who want to work and obey the law, but there are just no jobs left.”

Matt Allaire came to a similar conclusion.

“I realized how real the hypocrisy of the system is and how many resources go unused,” Allaire said.

Ultimately, this year’s C.O.P.E. event was another great success. Students walked away with a sense of the real struggles people in poverty encounter on a daily basis and a greater understanding to view all the members of their community with more empathy and compassion.