March 2018

Owens Commits to Play Football at CCU

Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.

That has more meaning now to Keshaun Owens ‘18 after he committed to play football with the Eagles of Cincinnati Christian University on Friday, March 16.

“I like the family aspect at the school and how they communicated with me,” Owens said.

Owens, a four-year starter for CJ, was always a key player on the field, head football coach Marcus Colvin said.

“He was one of our better defensive player his freshman year,” Colvin chuckled. “It was funny, because he was a great tackler, but he ended up catching the ball more for us.”

This past fall, Owens received several accolades including being named to the All-GCL First Team and Division III All-Southwest Ohio First Team.

“I’m going to miss his loyalty on the field,” Colvin reflected. “He’s a good example of sticking to the program, believing, giving of yourself and seeing how things work out.”

Colvin continued, “We can talk about Keshaun’s football growth, but he’s grown a lot with being a student here and getting himself to take advantage of this opportunity. Having him in class, it was great to see him develop those skills and accountability to his grades.”

The entire football team, along with friends, teachers and family, came to the library to watch Owens’ signing.

“The football team was supposed to be lifting during the signing,” Colvin shared. “But we came here because I wanted them to see Keshaun sign. It’s a good example of what we’re trying to do.”

“I’ll miss this community the most,” Owens said.

Owens plans to major in business and sports finance.

Posted March 19, 2018


CJ Performing Arts Presents: Once On This Island

Journey to the island as CJ Performing Arts Presents: Once on This Island, Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17.

The musical takes place in the French Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea and showcases how a peasant girl uses the power of love to bring people of different social classes together.

“We give her a challenge,” Angelo Moore-Knight ‘18, who portrays Papa Ge in the musical, explained. “Between the four gods, we’re like siblings. Myself and Erzulie (Ashley Gerhard ‘18) have a bet going on to see if the girl would choose love or death based upon the scenario.”

An exciting element to the musical were younger cast mates, as the musical called for “young islanders.” After an audition process, eight local elementary students were cast for the musical.

“It was so nice to work with children who eventually be in the place we are,” Moore-Knight said.

This production marks Moore-Knight’s final musical for CJ. He performed in all fall plays and spring musicals during his time at CJ.

“It’s an amazing feeling, but when I think about it, it’s bittersweet,” reflected Moore-Knight.

Once on This Island will be performed Friday, Mar. 16 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Mar. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Students may pre-purchase a ticket for $5 during lunch on Friday.

Posted March 15, 2018

Urban Plunge Participants Learn & Experience Poverty

Nine students immersed themselves in downtown Cincinnati to empathize, understand and make positive changes involving poverty. Kate Allaire ‘20, Andrew Buchanan ‘18, Peyton Burrows ‘20, Natalie Davis ‘18, Lia-Sophie Keller ‘20, Zoe Mason ‘20, Erin McGraw ‘20, Hillary Vaughn ‘20 and Nicole VanVoorhis ‘18, along with chaperones Jim Brooks and Peg Regan ‘73, participated in this year’s Urban Plunge.

“This was my second time on Urban Plunge and I wanted to go back because I had such an amazing time the first time, and this time was no different,” said Buchanan. 

“I decided to go on Urban Plunge to get a better understanding of how people in poverty have to live,” shared Vaughn. “I am grateful that I have always had the opportunity to attend a Catholic school and have had a comfortable life, but I do know that there are others who are not as fortunate as I am, and I was eager to learn more.”

As part of their service learning trip, the group spoke with people living in poverty and served at St. Vincent de Paul. 

“My favorite part was the SNAP challenge when we walked to the nearest Kroger — which was 45 minute by foot — and we received $4-$5 and had to make a healthy and wholesome meal for our "family" of three or four,” said Keller. “It was a great experience to see what other people have to deal with every day and it shows how really ineffective the food stamps are.”

“My favorite part of the Urban Plunge was definitely my home visit,” McGraw reflected. “Throughout various parishes in the U.S., St. Vincent de Paul has a program where a group of people, known as the Vincentians, visit the living conditions of people who call in for help. On my home visit, I visited an apartment where a young mother and her two adorable toddlers lived. The experience was so eye-opening and helped me to get a better idea of what I can do to help the situation.”

VanVoorhis agreed, “My favorite part was meeting people experiencing poverty first hand, talking to them, hearing their story first-hand, and being able to help them.”

Those who went on the Urban Plunge said they had a different view of poverty after their experience. 

“Before the Urban Plunge retreat, I believed all the stereotypes that people in poverty were ‘lazy’ and ‘not trying to make a better life’,” Vaughn said. “I learned that the reality is, they work extremely hard. The government does not make it easy for people to get out of poverty. Even agencies that would help the poor, are not always reliable and helpful.”

“I learned that if you see panhandlers and don't have any money on you, you should at least talk to them and say, ‘Hey I don't have any money on me right now, but have a nice day’,” VanVoorhis continued. “It takes away their humanity and dignity when people ignore them and pretend they are not there or worth saying hello to.”

McGraw added, “One major thing that surprised me about the retreat was the state of the children in poverty. While visiting and helping the children, I realized that kids will always be kids. Although they were living in such harsh conditions, they were still laughing and playing as all little kids do. Getting to be with these people was so humbling. I really got to better know how blessed we all actually are and how we were given these talents to help support our neighbors.”

When reflecting on the experience overall, Keller said, “This retreat helped me to look at my own life and realize how truly fortunate I am. I experienced and felt God's presence in these amazing people and their stories. I can't wait to go on Urban Plunge in future years!”

Buchanan added, “I highly encourage anyone thinking about it to go. Urban Plunge is an experience I believe everyone should go on because it gives you a new perspective about everything and the world around us, especially about our neighbors that are living in poverty or experiencing homelessness.”

Posted March 14, 2018

Seniors Share Passion of Sports With Younger Students

Four seniors on the Eagles varsity baseball team came together off the diamond to make a difference for younger children by using their passion for sports.

David Ernst, Joey Greene, Ryan Peltier and Ben Thomas went to Our Lady of the Rosary school and shared with the students what it means to be a good teammate, as part of the seniors’ Capstone Project.

“Since I've played sports for such a long time I thought it'd be a good idea to share some of my skills with others or kids who never had the opportunity to play sports,” said Thomas.

Peltier added, “My love for sports made me interested in mentoring the youth and I felt it was good to give back, especially to young kids who need someone to look up to.”

The seniors went to Our Lady of the Rosary school throughout the school year and spoke with students in the second grade.

“On our first two visits we talked about what good sportsmanship is and what it means to be a team player,” said Ernst. “We worked on applying those skills into the games we played as well.”

“We have done tons of activities with them like basketball, soccer, kickball, and PACMAN,” Thomas emphasized.

The group reflected that they were surprised about the impact they made on the students.

“I didn't expect the kids to interact the way they did with us, but when we got there, we all
clicked together and had a lot of fun,” said Peltier. “The kids were excited to do activities like play basketball, kickball and soccer. We learned that a lot of young student athletes really look up to people our age.”

Ernst agreed, “We weren't sure if second graders were old enough to really understand the concepts but they did very well with them. They were able to understand them and apply them very well during competition.”

Thomas added, “Not only are these kids good at sports now, but they can also be a good sport and have fun while doing so.”
“Focusing on a topic that our group enjoyed made it a great experience for us,” Ernst shared.

When reflecting on the project overall, Peltier said, “We didn't know how well it would go with second graders so we thought maybe the next time we went we could work with 5th or maybe 6th graders, but we really interacted with the kids well. They were sad when we had to leave and sent us thank you letters after our first visit saying, ‘Please come back soon,’ and, ‘Thank you for playing with us.’ We were all touched by this and visited the students earlier this month, and plan to go back again soon.”

Posted March 12, 2018

The Big Hoopla, CJ Announce the STEM Teacher of the Year

The Big Hoopla, in conjunction with Chaminade Julienne, announced the first-ever winner of The Big Hoopla STEM Teacher of the Year Award on Friday, February 23, naming to Dee Van Brackel as the recipient. She is a K-5 STEM teacher at Stephen Bell Elementary and Bell Creek Intermediate schools in Bellbrook.

Van Brackel was chosen from more than 50 submissions for the award. She was selected for her enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math in the classroom and the Dayton community. Van Brackel spearheaded a STEM night for students by networking with retired engineers and the WPAFB Educational Outreach office. Additionally, she spends many Saturdays volunteering at the Dayton Regional STEM Center for Science.

In the classroom, Van Brackel is credited with bringing non-traditional STEM subjects and STEM together. An example was given how she connected reading with STEM after reading the book, Rapunzel. She asked the students if Rapunzel could have used other methods to get people up the tower and students were challenged to create a pulley system for Rapunzel instead of her using her hair.

The selection committee for the Big Hoopla STEM Teacher of the Year award agreed that Van Brackel not only met, but exceeded the criteria they were looking for in a recipient of the award.

“The Big Hoopla STEM Challenge spotlights the influence and impact of STEM in the Dayton region, and it begins with education,” said Dan Meixner, CJ president.

“Teachers in this region especially inspire students to discover and participate in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These dedicated educators ignite the imaginations of our young people and give them tools and vision to shape a bright future for our region and beyond. The STEM Teacher of the Year Award gives us an opportunity to honor their work, and we are pleased to recognize Dee as this year’s recipient. She represents many in our community who are educating and preparing students to sustain and grow our city’s rich history of invention and innovation.” 

Van Brackel will be presented with her award during the Hoopla STEM Challenge at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School on Sunday, March 11 at 1 p.m. when she will receive a $1,000 grant from the Local Organizing Committee and CJ to be used to improve STEM learning in the classroom, an official Big Hoopla STEM Teacher of the Year plaque, 50 upper arena tickets for all First Four March Madness games and four Hoopla Central VIP Passes.

Hoopla STEM Challenge Event Details: 

  • Sunday, March 11 • noon - 5 p.m.
  • Families with children in grades K-8 are especially invited
  • Free Activities • Food • Compete for Prizes
  • Register here

STEM Showcase:

  • Liftoff Entertainment
  • Proto Buildbar
  • Perduco
  • Mile 2
  • Norwood Medical
  • Rave Cravings
  • Engineers Club of Dayton
  • Sinclair Architectural Technology and The American Institute of Architects Dayton Chapter
  • U.S. Air Force Museum
  • SelectTech Geospatial
  • DP&L + Ohio Energy Project
  • Dayton Metro Library
  • CJ STEMM - Chaminade Julienne
  • Premier Health
  • Boonshoft Museum
  • Barge Design Solutions
  • Make It Dayton
  • Carillon Historical Park
  • Scene75
  • Wright-Patterson AFB EOD
  • Heapy Engineering
  • University of Dayton School of Engineering
  • GemCity Engineering
  • Frontier Technologies inc.
  • Mister C
  • First Robotics
  • Wright-Patterson AFB Educational Outreach
  • Project Lead the Way
  • Dayton Regional STEM School
  • Dayton Power & Light
  • Girl Scouts
  • Marion's Piazza
  • W.g. Grinders
  • Ohio Robotics / XTREME Bots / Staub
  • USAF Mini Jet
  • Women in Science & Engineering (UD)
  • Riverside Research
  • Sinclair Community College Vet Tech Dept.
  • Copp Integrated Systems
  • PSS and MacAir’s
  • Whirlpool
  • MotoMan
  • GemCity Engineering
  • NASA
  • VEX Robotics
  • Booz Allen
  • COSI
  • Garber Electric
  • Innovators Robotics
  • SlickLabs
  • Honda
  • Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
  • IonVentus
  • Real Art
  • University of Dayton / UDRI
  • Reynolds & Reynolds
  • UD Rivers Institute
  • USAF Marathon

Posted February 23, 2018


Wrestlers Walk to State Ahead of Competition

Eagles wrestlers participated in the school’s traditional Walk to State on Thursday, March 8. The team doubled the number of state qualifiers this year with four students and one alternate qualifying for the tournament.

“This is the most successful team I can remember,” said assistant coach Paul Marshall ‘86. “To win as many points and win as many tournaments as they did is surreal.”

Qualifying for the state tournament were:

  • Isaiah Wortham '20 - 126lbs
  • Micah Marshall '18 - 145lbs
  • David Frederick '21 - 152lbs
  • Hunter Johns '19 - 182lbs
  • Thomas McGraw '18 - 132lb (alternate)

This marked the return to the state competition for Marshall and Wortham.

“This time around I have a mission and something to do,” Wortham said.

“Getting the opportunity to go to state twice is pretty special,” Marshall added. “This second time will really allow me to kick it into gear.”

Frederick and Johns are participating in the state tournament for the first time.

“This is the best team I’ve been a part of,” Frederick said.

Johns agreed, “Doubling the number of wrestlers going to state shows how strong of a team we are.”

“The kids have practiced for this moment and hats off to them for this moment,” Marshall reflected. “Every goal that was set for them was achieved, and now they’re at the new summit.”

Posted March 8, 2018


Seniors Spread Awareness About Brigid's Path

In connection with their Senior Capstone Project, three students shared with the CJ community the large impact a local organization is making by helping babies born addicted to drugs. Jake Jagels, Matthew Keaty, and Cecilia Meadors invited representatives from Brigid’s Path to talk to other CJ students last month. Brigid’s Path is one of a few organizations in the nation currently that provides short-term care for newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure.

“My interest for this project started last year when I saw some of the statistics that show how the opioid epidemic is affecting babies, and what Brigid’s Path is doing to help,” Keaty said.

It has been noted in dozens of local and national news stories that Dayton is one of the worst areas in the nation for opioid use and overdoses.

“I was interested in helping Brigid’s Path for Capstone because I have been aware of its mission since the beginning of this wonderful organization and I thought it was a group that we could help make a real and lasting difference in our local community,” Jagels added.

Jane Snyder, the Director of Development at Brigid's Path spoke with the CJ community about the organization’s beginnings and what they’re doing now to help babies.

“My group and I figured that bringing in a speaker after school was a nice was to invite people to learn more about what Brigid's Path does as opposed to a donation drive because our main goal is to spread awareness for what the organization needs,” Meadors noted.

In addition to having Snyder talk to students, the Capstone group is organizing a letter writing campaign to Congress.

“Our group is beginning a letter-writing campaign to Ohio's Congresspeople to ask them to support Representative Mike Turner's CRIB act, a bill before Congress that would fund the treatment of babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome,” Jagels explained.

Meadors added, “The Crib Act would start putting social security money towards centers like Brigid's Path.”

Keaty agreed, “I really think that Brigid’s Path is a great organization and what they do is really inspiring. I hope they get the help they need to be able to take on more drug-dependent babies.”

Posted March 7, 2018

STEMM Idol: Matt Piekenbrock '10

An Eagle alumnus came back to CJ to share how his STEMM education is helping him prepare for his next steps in his education and career.

STEMM Idol speaker Matt Piekenbrock '10 returned to CJ as part of the STEMM Idol Speaker Series last month. He is a computer science graduate student at Wright State University.

“I didn’t know what computer science was when I was in high school so I wanted to show students things they might not have known about computer science, and I think that is very exciting,” Piekenbrock said.

In addition in preparing to defend his master’s degree at WSU this school year, Piekenbrock received his undergraduate degree at the same university. He is currently preparing to go to school for his doctorate after receiving his master’s.

“I’d like to stay in academia if possible,” Piekenbrock reflected. “I also don’t have too much preference on my university. It is definitely important and the classes you choose, but ultimately you choose how well you’ll succeed after school.”

Piekenbrock continued,”Computer science and artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the world as we know it, and no one knows about where it’ll go from here.”

Are you interested in becoming a CJ STEMM Idol Speaker Series presenter? Contact Meg Draeger, CJ STEMM coordinator, at (937) 461-3740 x487, or at

Posted March 5, 2018


Men's and Women's Track Heads to State

Update on 3/5/18: The indoor track and field team was very successful in the state competition. Highlights from the meet included:

  • The men's 4x200 team defeating Dunbar in their heat, only for the Eagles to be disqualified because of a lane infraction;
  • Preston Grant finishing 7th in the 200 (22.74);
  • Donnie Stevenson finishing 10th in the 200 (22.87) and 10th in the 400;
  • Women's 4x200 finishing 2nd (1:45);
  • Women's 4x800 finishing 7th (10:31:06);
  • Jazzmyn Potts finishing 9th in the 200;
  • Julia DiLoreto finishing 4th in the long jump (16'10") and 9th in the 400 (1:00:36); and,
  • the women's 4x400 finishing 6th (4:15.87.) 

"Everyone who got on the podium got a medal, so we brought home a lot of hardware," said Head Coach Jerry Puckett. "Everyone did a great job; the spring looks promising."

Original Story: Men’s and women’s indoor track state qualifiers participated in the traditional Walk to State on Thursday, March 1.

“We have 16 kids going,” head coach Jerry Puckett said. “We are a very young team and this is one of the larger groups we’ve taken to state.”

Races with Eagles who qualified in the state competition on Saturday, March 3 are:

  • 4x200: Donnie Stevenson, Matt Willis, Jance Peters, Preston Grant
  • 4x400: Stevenson, Cory Henry, Peters, Grant
  • 200 meters: Grant
  • 400 meters: Stevenson
  • 4x800: Carolyn Marshall, Julia DiLareto, Kiara DiLoreto, Madison Meixner, Lucy Zelinski
  • 4x400: Jazzmyn Potts, Jada Grant, J. DiLoreto, Lindsey Carter.
  • 4x200: Potts, Grant, DiLoreto, Meyah Haywood
  • 200 meters, 60 hurdles: Potts
  • 400 meters, 200 meters: J. DiLoreto
  • 60 meters: Haywood

“I’m most excited about running with my relay team - I love competition,” Potts shared.

“Our coaches have worked us hard and it’s paid off,” Stevenson addded.

Coach Puckett noted that success from the indoor track members helps him assess what’s ahead for the spring, outdoor track season.

“Until this theory proves me wrong, it’s always held true.” Puckett chuckled.

“We are a very young team,” Puckett added. “They’re ability to work and they’re unbelievable competitiveness keeps me going.”

Posted March 1, 2018


Seniors Invite Veterans to CJ to Talk About PTSD

Seniors who have close connections to military members or first responders organized a presentation, by bringing in veterans to talk to the CJ community about PTSD.

The Senior Capstone group of Zachary Braun, Orion Coyle, Connor Trick and Paul Wittmann each had different reasons behind their pursuit to spread awareness about PTSD.

“I became interested in the topic of PTSD because my father was a soldier in the Army during the end of the Cold War,” Coyle said. “He operated in a tank during combat. In addition, my uncles were in the Navy and my grandpa served in the Navy during Vietnam on the swift boats.”

“It bothered me that men and women risk their lives defending our nation and don't receive adequate support upon arriving back home,” Trick added.

When deciding what to do for their project, Braun said, “We were looking at different ways to raise awareness for this issue, and we decided it would be best if students heard about it from people who were directly impacted.”

“I contacted my brother, Ben Trick ‘10, who works at the VA hospital in Dayton,” Trick continued. “My brother was able to get me in contact with Dr. Kristin Rodzinka, PTSD program manager at the VA, who was kind enough to provide us with three Vietnam veterans who were willing to talk to our students.”

Last month, the veterans came to CJ and talked to students during their homeroom. 

“The veterans described what PTSD is like for them, and gave the students perspective on different ways someone could suffer from this mental ailment,” Braun said.

“The veterans discussed how PTSD can affect you, how it can affect a community, and the ways in which you can be exposed to traumatic stress,” Coyle shared. “They talked a lot on how to reach out to people who might be affected by PTSD and how you can make a difference in their lives.”

Trick added, “The main theme the veterans focused on was that PTSD can be acquired by anyone who witnesses a traumatic event. The veterans also talked about how one of the best treatments for PTSD is social acceptance. Upon returning back from the Vietnam War, they were not well received by all members of the public. The veterans explained that without this social acceptance, they were forced to isolate themselves, thus making their PTSD more severe. The men also explained that while they had PTSD they were afraid to talk to anyone about their problems as they were afraid of being seen as an annoyance. The men said that by just going up to a veteran and talking to them or thanking them for their service truly means a lot to them.”

“We feel it was important to raise awareness for this issue because understanding the trials and tribulations of being a veteran brings a new dynamic to the respect we have for the veterans of our armed forces.” Braun concluded.

In addition to having the veterans talk to CJ students, the group went to St. Albert and St. Peter grade schools to collect support letters to veterans at the VA.

When reflecting on their overall project, Coyle said, “We gave students a real, genuine look at what PTSD can do to a person, and hopefully that sparked some interest in the subject and made them realize ways they can help someone who is suffering.”

Posted March 1, 2018