January 2020

Capstone Collects Books in Correlation with Catholic Schools Week

In correlation with Catholic Schools Week, a senior capstone group has collected books that will be given to children at a local elementary school.

Jordan Ramsey, Josh Schneider, Walker Schinaman and Andrew Wong originally had a different idea for their capstone project, but were inspired to do more.

“We originally just planned to tutor and mentor children, but decided as a group that we needed to do more,” Schinaman said. “The book drive also helps the school after we graduate from CJ, so our Capstone can make a lasting impact rather than just be a one year thing.”

“In many circumstances, children often don't have access to books that either they are interested in or need for school,” added Schneider. “This seemed like an important issue since reading is such an important skill and necessary to gain a better understanding of things. Also, it is a way for kids to escape into a new world through every page.”

Books contributed throughout the week will be given to St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School.

“Through my previous experiences tutoring at El Puente educational center and at St. Benedict, I realized the need for children to have books in order to further their education,” shared Wong. “In addition to this, I personally experienced this deficiency when I first arrived in the U.S. for grade school as I knew few words in the English language and the books I read were often two grades below me. Thus, I understand the ways in which books can change people's lives.”

Ramsey added, “Because of this project, kids will have more access to the books they want to read.”

The group said they're proud of this project and are excited to see the children’s faces when they receive the books.

“After the book drive, we will continue our service at the school and hopefully help some of the children improve their reading skills with the new variety of books,” Schinaman shared.

Wong also noted, “While the world may advance day by day, the issue of education gap and illiteracy is still prominent in our community today. Thus, we hope that others will continue this project after we graduate."

Posted January 30, 2020

#becauseofCJ: Reflection from Will '12

Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the Annual Fund, you make this happen. When you do, more Eagles can soar! Read Will’s story below, and consider making your gift today.

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What separates Chaminade Julienne from other Catholic high schools in the Dayton area is the pervasive commitment to social justice and investing in our community. CJ’s socioeconomically and racially diverse student population and location in the heart of downtown Dayton are what set it apart, and above, comparable area institutions. As I close in on a decade as an alumnus, I see that these values have not wavered and are the reason I’m writing this essay. 

I entered CJ in the fall of 2008. This year lay in the heart of an incredibly difficult time for our country, with pains especially magnified in places like Dayton. That December, the million-square-foot General Motors plant in Moraine rolled its last SUV off the assembly line, costing thousands of workers their jobs and setting off a deleterious ripple effect in the local economy. The next year, NCR, an anchor in the Dayton economy for more than a century, moved 8 hours down I-75, leaving a gaping hole in the city it abandoned. The leadership of CJ saw these massive shifts and, rather than racing for the hills, chose to invest in our downtown campus. More than ten years after the worst economic crash in 80 years, the city of Dayton is rebounding and that is thanks in part to a school that chose to serve as a courageous catalyst for investment.

I have always held so much pride in CJ’s diversity. When I tell non-Daytonians that I went to a private high school, I’m often met with skeptically arched eyebrows from folks imagining an elite, homogenous upbringing, clad in navy blazers and institutional privilege. I take honor in disabusing that notion, instead describing a school which serves as a microcosm for the demographics of the community it inhabits. My classmates hailed from 50+ zip codes with some friends that walked to school from their downtown homes, and others (including me) who drove in from farms miles away. It did not matter how you looked, what you believed, or much money your parents had – you were a member of the CJ family when you walked our halls.

I have taken the values instilled in me by CJ and have sought to live them out every day of my life as an alumnus. After graduating, I attended The Ohio State University, studying political science and business in the honors program, a rigorous curriculum for which CJ prepared me well. Columbus provided ample opportunities to work at the intersection of state and local politics; I interned at the Ohio Statehouse, with a public employees’ labor union, and at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. I also had the privilege of working for the state of Ohio at the federal level, spending a summer in Washington, D.C., interning in the office of Senator Sherrod Brown. In each of these positions in public policy, I had the opportunity to live out the Chaminade Julienne mantra of service to others.

After earning my bachelor’s degree, following a stint working for Oracle, a technology firm, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the office of Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley area of northern California. In this role, I’m tasked with crafting federal policy on health care, education, and political reform. The first two tenets of the “Profile of a CJ Graduate” are that a CJ graduate is a “life-long learner” and is “service-oriented.” In my position in the Congressman’s office, I am blessed with the opportunity to learn every day and serve my country. I am also able to give back to my local community through my position on the junior board of Everybody Wins DC, a reading mentorship organization serving elementary students in our nation’s capital. I can draw a direct line from my experience as part of the CJ Little Sibs program to my passion for working with children today.

Ultimately, I plan to one day return to Dayton and invest my experiences in the city and the region that invested so much in me. Dayton is the birthplace of aviation and an incubator for innovation and the educational institutions that birthed/led to/built CJ has been a catalyst for effective change in the city for more than a century. Because of CJ, I have been able to see the part that I can play in lifting up the place that lifted me. Because of CJ, I know the value of diversity and service. Because of CJ, I am inspired to continuously learn and take that which I’ve learned and give it right back to those around me.

Will McKelvey, Class of 2012

Posted January 9, 2020

Celebrating Catholic Schools Week 2020

Beginning January 26, 2020, Catholic schools from around the nation began celebrating the annual national Catholic Schools Week. This year’s theme was, “Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”

One way students embraced that theme was by participating in a teleconference with Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr on Monday, January 27. Catholic high schools from the Cincinnati and Dayton regions chose students to participate in this teleconference and they were able to ask the Archbishop questions about faith, Catholic schooling, and more.

Madison Meixner ‘20 asked a question on behalf of CJ, “What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had since being ordained?”

“In 1991 I was asked to put together the program for World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado and that took place in 1993,” Archbishop Schnurr said. “It was Pope John Paul II who asked that (the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) do it and because I was working at the Bishop’s Conference at the time I was asked to take the lead. It gave me many opportunities — for two years I would go to Rome and meet with the Holy Father because he wanted to know what we were doing with that program, so that was a great experience.

“But perhaps, more than anything else, that same experience, because I put two years into it. Once the event started someone asked me if the event was going the way I expected it to. And I said, ‘I don’t recognize this event — the Holy Spirit has taken this over.’ It was marvelous but I was even surprised with what was happening. For me , that was the clearest example of the Holy Spirit being active in the church, and I was grateful.”

Also on Monday, students lined the hallways and joined hands for a special 3 o’clock prayer that was also said at the same time at nearby Catholic high schools.

On Wednesday, January 29, the CJ community will gather for Mass at Emmaunel Church. That same day, select students will go to St. Luke in Beavercreek and join other students from all around the Dayton region for a Catholic Schools Week Mass.

Additionally to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, the CJ community will participate in Catholic Schools Week BINGO and on Friday, January 31, they are asked to wear a Catholic schools t-shirt or sweatshirt (can be from an elementary school, high school, CJ or college).

Posted January 27, 2020

New Club Focuses on Mental Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children being diagnosed with anxiety and depression has been on the rise (source). That is one of the reasons why Lyndsey Carter ‘20 (St. Albert, Kettering) and Morgan Downey ‘20 (St. Christopher, Vandalia) created the Mental Health Club as part of their Senior Capstone Project.

“I am passionate about mental health awareness,” said Carter. “I’ve also seen the need for improvements with in-patient systems specifically for youth.”

“The whole idea is to get other people involved and to erase the stigma around mental health,” added Downey. “Getting more people aware and how to include others about topics like depression and anxiety is really important, especially at a school like CJ, where we want to include everybody.”

During their first meeting, Carter and Downey led other students in creating vision boards.

“I’ve done this before for other topics like life goals,” explained Carter. “With a focus on mental health, and it being the beginning of the year, we thought it would be good that instead of new year’s resolutions we could have mental health goals. Everyone has school goals, or sports goals, or social goals, but not many think about mental health goals. I think this is a cool way to do something creative but also try to break down that stigma.”

The pair said the group will continue to meet throughout the rest of this school year and hope students continue this group for years to come. In a future meeting, the group plans to create tie-blankets that can be given to youth on their way home from the Behavioral Health In-patient Unit at Dayton Children’s.

Carter concluded, “After everything Dayton has been through this year, there was no better time than now to start this club.”

Posted January 23, 2020

Muse Machine Performance Showcases "The Women Behind King"

Just two days after the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., students watched the performance of “The Women Behind King” put on by dancers with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Second Company. The performance was in conjunction with Muse Machine’s In-School performance program.

“For a long time, I was curious about the women of the civil rights movement,” said Shonna Hickman-Matlock, the Director of Education & Outreach Services with DCDC. “I thought there had to be a significant role there but women were being under-represented. I did research and found they had significant roles — they stood with King, not just behind him, but with him. We often hear, “Behind every man is a great woman,” and we sometimes overlook those women.”

The contemporary dance performance also featured music and sound bites from newsreels from the civil rights movement.

“I think it’s pretty cool to showcase this because by being part of this performance, I learned stuff that I hadn't learned back in high school,” said dancer Sierra McCurtis. “This part of history is now rooted into my femininity.”

Dancer Willa Marks agreed, “We’re all girls in the second company this year so I think it’s a great program. It’s really exciting to get to to share this information with students.”

Hickman-Matlock added that bringing the performance of “The Women Behind King” to schools began in 2019, which was the Year of the Woman.

“History is significant to our future,” said Hickman-Matlock. “We have to know our past to move forward. Women can teach their own daughters to take pride in their achievements and contributions. Also, young men can learn that young women have value too.”

Posted January 23, 2020

Scrunchies Inspire Awareness for Senior Capstone Project

Hair scrunchies are a popular accessory for people to wear around their wrists. For the Senior Capstone Group of Caroline Chaulk, Kaliana Keyes, Lanie Sorg, and Aubrey Trimbach, hair scrunchies were used to also bring awareness about human trafficking.

“Human trafficking awareness is something that I have always been passionate about, but what really made me interested in this topic was the different forms of human trafficking,” Chaulk shared. “Usually, people have one idea about what human trafficking is and that idea is usually sex trafficking. I wanted to focus more on the forced labor aspect which is the biggest category of human trafficking.”

“I became interested in fighting human trafficking the moment I learned about the issue,” said Keyes. “I became even more interested when I learned that Dayton,Ohio is one of the largest human trafficking hubs in America. I realized just how great the issue is and how inhumane human trafficking really is.”

Sorg added, “Dayton is called ‘Crossroads of America’ and human trafficking is prevalent in the area due to the major highways I-75 and I-70. We wanted to come up with a way to create awareness in an interesting way. We thought that because scrunchies have become popular we could make those as well as bring awareness to labor trafficking.” 

On Friday, January 10, the group held an after school event where students could make scrunchies.

“January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and January 11th is the National Day for Human Trafficking Awareness,” Keyes said. “We also found that the color for the awareness is blue. We decided to have our event on the 10th because it was the day before the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We decided to make all of the scrunchies different shades of blue because it is the color for awareness, and we had hopes that maybe some of the students would wear their scrunchies on the 11th to spread awareness.”

“A good amount of people came to the scrunchie night and left knowing a lot more about a labor trafficking than sex trafficking,” Sorg shared.

Chaulk added, “Bringing awareness to human trafficking and learning how to spot the signs of it is very important. Recognizing the different types of human trafficking is essential to understanding how to help and bring awareness to this social injustice.”

Posted January 16, 2020

MIT Women's Initiative Makes Impact at CJ and Around Dayton

While on break from college, many students may relax and catch-up with family and friends. Students who attend the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), however, have another option during their month long winter break.

Patricia Chan and Mariela Perez-Cabarcas, current sophomores at MIT, gave a presentation to young women at CJ this week as part of the MIT Women’s Initiative. For one week during their winter break, women from MIT taking part in the Women’s Initiative are all over the country sharing the importance and need for more women in STEM fields.

“We shared that you don’t have to look a certain way to be a STEM professional,” Perez-Cabarcas said. “Whatever your background is, whatever your education level is, it’s possible to go into a STEM field. You shouldn’t be limited by your gender or anything.”

For both Chan and Perez-Cabarcas, they said they knew from an early stage that they were interested in STEM topics.

“When I was younger, STEM subjects were easier for me compared to the humanities,” Chan shared. “Knowingly or unknowingly, I was more interested in doing things like taking things apart so I could see what they look like and problem solving.”

Both women shared that they hope to be working in their field of study after graduating from MIT. 

“I’m studying mechanical engineering,” Chan said. “I hope to get a job in the industry or work with a non-profit. I may also do something like environmental engineering.”

“I’m studying electrical engineering, computer science and neuroscience,” Perez-Cabarcas shared. “I’m interested in working for the Department of Defense and doing something with brain-computer interfaces.”

During their time in Ohio, Chan and Perez-Cabarcas also spoke and inspired young girls at Bishop Leibold, St. Albert, St. Helen, Holy Angels and St. Christopher. You can learn more about the MIT Women’s Initiative here.

Posted January 16, 2020

Plastic Bag Mattresses Created Through Capstone Project

Plastic bags are a staple at many stores and a convenience for carrying multiple items. Now, plastic bags have a new purpose for those without a place to sleep.

For their Senior Capstone Project, Agnes Guiselin ‘20 (St. Christopher, Dayton) and Jeremiah Gar ‘20 (Dayton) enlisted help from others to create plastic bag mattresses.

“This entire project began two years ago when I attended the National Catholic Youth Conference,” said Guiselin. “It was there that I was inspired by a group of women crocheting mattresses out of plastic bags and it was there that I fell in love with this project. 

“This entire project was based on some fun little hobby that I would sometimes do while watching a movie at home,” Guiselin continued. “Through God's helping hand, all those who have supported me these last two years, and our collective sheer determination, it has become something beyond my wildest expectations that I dream of one day handing off to some capable young hands to continue and to grow.”

Guiselin, a parishioner at St. Christopher Church in Vandalia, has spoken with the congregation to assist in the creation of mattresses as well.

“The plan is to have multiple individual groups working collaboratively to produce mats,” Guislen explained. “A professional photographer volunteered to videotape a how-to video on making the mats — something I am extraordinarily excited for — that will be posted online as to spread the word about this project and get people from all across the world helping out however they can.”

As many as 500 to 700 plastic bags are needed to create a single mattress.

“The kindness shown by the community and the amount of plastic bags donated has become overwhelming,” Guislen shared. “I know how this is helping so many people out there and I am reminded each day how much more work needs to be done.”

Currently the mattresses are being given to those being served at St. Vincent De Paul. In the future, Guiselin said she plans to also give mats to the House of Bread.