June 2020

CJ Welcomes Emma Fitzpatrick as Band Director

Whether she is performing, teaching or directing, Emma Fitzpatrick’s passion for music is apparent.

That unmistakable enthusiasm is one of the many reasons Fitzpatrick was recently selected as the new Chaminade Julienne Eagle Pride marching band director.

“As a recent University of Dayton graduate she brings the Flyer spirit and energy with her to inspire our Eagles,” said Debi Schutt, CJ director of performing arts. “She has a strong sense of mission and vision for our Eagle Pride marching band and I am excited to see her excel as our new director.”

Fitzpatrick graduated from Beavercreek High School where she performed with the Beavers’ marching band, jazz band, pep band and was a member of the pit orchestra. She went on to earn a degree in music education with an instrumental concentration from the University of Dayton. She garnered multiple awards as a Flyer including the Senior Award for Outstanding Contribution for University Concert Bands and the Brother Tom Ridder, S.M. Award of Excellence for Outstanding Service by a Student Majoring in Music.

When the position became available at CJ – after the previous director decided to pursue graduate studies and performance opportunities – Fitzpatrick knew she had to apply.

“The friendly and hardworking community that the staff and students create makes CJ a place where you would want to work,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting to know everyone through making music and creating lifelong memories together.”

The new Eagle Pride marching band director brings with her a wealth of experience working with local marching bands in a variety of roles and already has several goals for the upcoming school year.

“Our Eagle Pride staff and student leadership team have created a vision statement that we are going to use to guide us this year,” Fitzpatrick said. “Some of our goals include collaborating with our student section and cheerleaders, working towards memorizing more of our music, and incorporating more visuals into our show. I am excited to see our marching season take off and cannot wait to see what successes the students will find.”

June 30, 2020

Acts of Kindness - @Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Miami Valley

"When you feel like it's all bad news in the world, do something."

Chuck Bridgman '79 thought he was going to learn about “all things bourbon” from Joe Head, owner of the Century Bar in Dayton while at a fundraiser five years ago for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Miami Valley. What resulted was a mixture of little and big — a calling to be a youth mentor, for an 8-year-old boy named, Javonte.

Chuck shared his joy of mechanics with Javonte. They built a mini bike together, intertwining ratios and calculations along the way. “Javonte remembers everything and has an amazing knack for doing math in his head,” said Bridgman.

They have also calculated how long a battery-operated helicopter would fly and how oxygen changes to carbon dioxide in the coca cola and mentos experiment. “We also check out the same library book and talk about it the next time we get together.” Each year they also look forward to catching a Bengals game.

Now that his “little” isn’t so little anymore and in junior high, Chuck hopes Javonte can be a CJ Eagle. “He’d be a good fit and CJ would definitely challenge him!

“What I’ve learned about this experience is that you become aware of living in somebody else’s shoes. Transportation is a hold back for him and he’s a teenager who is often hungry. Many basics that a lot of us take for granted.”

Chuck encourages other adults to get involved as a mentor.

“When you feel like it’s all bad news in the world, do something. The commitment does not require a huge amount of time and you get so much out of it.”

Since 1958, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Miami Valley has operated under the belief that every child has the ability to succeed and thrive in life given the opportunity. They make meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, and develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, BB/BS efforts have adapted with the launch of their Big Neighbors Initiative. They are meeting the basic needs of their families by providing meals and delivering prescriptions and other essential items.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Miami Valley website


Published online June 26, 2020

Lending Expertise to the Pandemic Crisis

When the COVID pandemic became real and present in California in early March, I was taken off guard like so many of us. My own research did not involve global health or influenza-like illnesses, but as an epidemiologist, I knew the scientific jargon about epidemics. I had been paying attention to what was going on in China, Italy, and Iran, but just peripherally. I had once hoped that the global public health system that had worked effectively to drastically control the SARS and MERS epidemics in the past would do so again. Unfortunately, many of those control measures had been defunded or weakened. It was becoming clear that our country was going to soon have to pay the heavy price already being paid elsewhere.

I began to feel a great deal of anxiety, because I knew that the pandemic control measures would exact a huge toll on many in the Southwest Los Angeles community where I live and on the marginalized communities with whom I do my work. This includes people living with HIV, people who use drugs, and people who are either in jail now or recently left jail. The closures of business and schools have wreaked the greatest havoc on the working poor — those considered essential, rarely can work from the safety of home and are often not protected on the job. Those not considered essential and have little savings to fall back on. Many don’t even qualify for unemployment because they worked off the grid or are undocumented. Those leaving jail often live on the streets or in group settings where COVID-19 prevention is difficult. Those in jail may be even worse off — close quarters, unclean surroundings — have huge potential for rapid spread.

Once I adjusted to the new realities of telecommuting while trying to keep my kids on track with their schoolwork, I found my purpose in service. I had no “official” COVID-19 role, but I had resources and expertise. Members of my team began to reach out to current and former study participants to answer questions about COVID-19 and link them to available resources. They also
offered my expertise to our community partners who ran residential facilities for substance abuse. I was invited on podcasts and a radio show to speak to segments of the African American
community of Los Angeles about the pandemic. I even joined my husband’s boxing podcast several times to answer questions and share advice about how people could prevent infection and what to do if they had symptoms.

I also joined two different task forces that are addressing the outsized impact of COVID-19 on racial/ethnic minority communities. We are collecting data, writing Op-Eds and thought pieces,
pushing policy makers, and developing new research.

My anxieties quickly shifted to busy and productive energy. I was using the tremendous gifts I have been blessed with through my education, my God-given intelligence, and the two institutions with which I work — David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Given the enormity of the problem, none of it seems like enough,
but each day I ask God for direction and then do my best to follow it. I generally go to bed exhausted but fulfilled.

Dr. Nina Harawa ‘88 is a Professor-in-Residence with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She also has a faculty appointment at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science where she serves as faculty leader for the university’s Center for AIDS Research Education and Services (also known as Drew CARES). She works with community partners to develop and test effective, culturally relevant interventions for prevention, care, and treatment. In her free time she likes to cook and write, including an occasional blog found at “mykidseattheirveggies.wordpress.com.”


June 23, 2020 (Originally published in Spring Vision 2020)

Alex Edgel Names Women's Volleyball Head Coach

A seamless transition and a high level of success are both on first-year Eagles head coach Alex Edgel’s volleyball bucket list.

“I am looking forward to leading the program back to competing for GCL and district titles,” Edgel '07 said. “With a strong senior class, a program full of returning players eager to improve, and a dedicated coaching staff all on the same page, I think we will be able to elevate the CJ volleyball program to the level our fans deserve.”

The Eagles volleyball court is familiar territory for Edgel who played for the CJ boys program from 2003-07. He went on to play club volleyball at Ohio State University before shifting gears and turning his attention to coaching. He joined the Eagles coaching staff in 2015 as an assistant varsity coach and was one of the first to throw his hat in the ring when the position opened up.

“As a CJ graduate, I have been an Eagle for most of my lifetime, so the opportunity to be a head coach at my alma mater was too exciting to pass up,” he said. “I am excited to take over the program and continue to build the family that is CJ volleyball.”

Edgel’s Eagle pride was obvious to CJ athletic director Jeremy Greenleaf.

“Alex is a great fit for CJ because he is a CJ grad, has a passion for CJ, and because of his experience with the sport as a player and a coach,” Greenleaf said. “He has been part of our program beginning with his time as a young fan who grew up following, watching and cheering for the Eagles."

Edgel – who also coaches for the Dayton Juniors Volleyball Club – is focused on helping the Eagles become a contender in the highly-competitive GCL. After an 8-16 record during the 2019 season, he knows there is some work to do. A health pandemic, however, put some of his plans on hold for a bit.

“With my first offseason being interrupted by COVID-19, we are really going to need to hit the ground running once we get the teams back together,” he said. “After months of everyone being cooped up, I can already sense a renewed enthusiasm from our athletes. I have no doubt that our girls will be ready to push themselves to make up for lost time.”


June 22, 2020

Brandon Meyer Named as Forty Under 40 Honoree

From creating innovative ways to help Chaminade Julienne recognize tremendous growth, to working tirelessly in his own neighborhood to help residents recover from the devastating tornadoes that ravaged the area in 2019, Brandon Meyer is no stranger to hard work.

His work ethic and dedication are just two of the many traits that helped the CJ director of admissions earn the distinction of being named one of the Dayton Business Journal’s 2020 Forty Under 40 recipients. The Forty Under 40 award recognizes the region’s brightest young business leaders who are making a difference in their workplace and in the community. Nominations are judged on professional accomplishments, community leadership, awards and milestones.

“It’s exciting news and we congratulate Brandon on being named one of this year's honorees,” said Dan Meixner ‘84, president. “While he came on board at CJ just over two years ago, Brandon has made a major impact on our community and on our enrollment. We are grateful for his fresh perspective, enthusiasm, and mission-based approach with which he leads the effort of our admissions office.”

At a time when many Catholic schools are experiencing decreased enrollment, Meyer built on CJ’s momentum and previous strategies to increase enrollment for the 2019-20 school year by almost 10 percent.

But for Meyer, more than quantity, it’s about the quality of the experiences he provides to potential students and their families as they get to know the school community better. From coordinating traditional events such as open house, CJ Eagle Summer Camps and the fun-filled Kids’ Night Under the Lights, he has been instrumental in helping highlight the many educational and extracurricular experiences that are uniquely CJ.

In his role as director of admissions, Meyer also moderates the school’s largest club — the Eagle Ambassadors. These students act as a point of contact for potential students and families when they visit CJ and take on various leadership roles throughout the school year. Under Meyer’s guidance, the program has grown in numbers and in its expectation for its students.

While his dedication to his work is obvious, he is also a devoted husband and parent as he and his wife LeeAnn are the proud parents of three young children. He leads by example as he lives a life of service on and off the CJ campus. A member of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Dayton, he contributes bi-weekly reflections on scripture readings to the adult Faith Formation Ministry. He is an active lay Marianist and a member of the Knights of Columbus Council.


Published June 18, 2020

#becauseofCJ: Aaron Perkins '10

Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the CJ Annual Fund, you make this happen. Read Aaron's story below, and consider joining others today in supporting the mission of CJ.

It’s been almost 10 years since I walked the halls of Chaminade Julienne, going from class to class, meeting new people, and learning so much. When I look back over what I have accomplished in my life thus far, I am forever grateful for the time I spent at CJ, for CJ has helped to shape the very foundation on which I have built my life’s successes.

My educational journey at CJ began my freshman year with the goal of learning but also having fun. I was always an outgoing person, so meeting new friends was easy. I wanted to play soccer, do what was necessary to pass my classes, and hang with my friends. By the end of sophomore year, I learned that I had to be more attentive and focused. I had two more years until life after CJ and I would be thrust into the real world. I had established goals and wanted a successful career.

The encouragement and support I received from the teachers and staff at CJ helped me gain the momentum I needed to push forward. The four years I played soccer at CJ helped to shape my character, build my strength and courage as well as teach me teamwork and what it took to be a leader. The teachers and staff knew the students from the time they entered the school until the end of their four years at CJ. It created a caring and family-like environment.

When I completed my education at CJ, I went on to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Wright State University and obtained my job as a Federal Probation Officer for the Eastern District of Michigan while pushing forward toward other career goals. For me, Chaminade Julienne accomplished its mission to educate the whole person, work for justice, and develop a family spirit.

Thank you CJ for shaping the lives of young people like me and for being what you truly are, “a Leader for Excellence in Catholic Education.”


Published June 14, 2020

Acts of Kindness — @Food for the Journey

"Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Gandi.

Teresa Spanel ‘07

As a nonprofit community kitchen, Food for the Journey Project serves hot and nutritious meals in neighborhoods throughout Dayton. We promote and believe in dignity through the comfort of a meal.

We have served over 100,000 well-balanced meals. There are no questions asked, just food served in a community atmosphere. The mission is one that hits the ground running daily. I am inspired
by director Chuck Wourms’ heart and connection to each of the guests who walk through the door.

The people involved in FJP are making a change in the world and often remind me of the quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Julie Taylor ‘83

For several years, I have been a member of a group of ladies who are passionate about food!

We love to learn and we wanted to share this passion for food in a way that could benefit people who don’t have our resources. For a while, we didn’t know exactly what that looked like. One
day, God put a bright, shiny mobile kitchen on my cousin’s Facebook page, Chuck Wourms!

We learned that FJP serves a hot meal and so much more to 1000 guests a week and have been doing this for almost five years. They serve a full meal with dignity. It’s important to them that the
food is colorful, plentiful and that people know that they are welcome without any qualifiers.

We hosted a Rock the Table, a luncheon at Moraine Country Club in the fall, to introduce about 200 friends to FJP. The enthusiasm for this incredible nonprofit organization was magnificent.

So many of our guests reached out to FJP to find ways to support their efforts, through financial support as well as creating new relationships for them with local grocers and restaurants.

Our committee, including Dr. Eleny Fronista Piontek ‘83, also had the privilege and pleasure of actually serving with the FJP team — which includes a number of Marianists, which felt like home! FJP is about enjoying time together and leaving feeling filled up in every way. This is a journey that fills your soul. They are truly doing God’s work, and I felt blessed to be a small part of it.

FJP website  |  Facebook


Published online June 14, 2020


Celebrating Performing Arts at CJ

There was no curtain call and no standing ovation but many of the performing arts students did receive accolades in recent weeks even though Chaminade Julienne’s doors remain closed.

“This year we gathered virtually to celebrate all of the wonderful accomplishments from the past year, recognize student participation and celebrate the many outstanding achievements of the Performing Arts Department,” said Debi Schutt, director of performing arts.

From musical ensembles to Shakespearian plays, Chaminade Julienne had 120 students participate in some facet of the rich performing arts program during the 2019-20 school year. Every student received a participation award and superlative and major awards were also presented to those who shined on and off the stage.

The Eagles performing arts excellence wasn’t simply recognized by the CJ community but by the larger arts community as well as CJ students garnered 25 awards in the recent Miami Valley High School Theatre Awards including six outstanding awards.

The cast and crew of “Little Women” received the Outstanding Musical Award with Chloe Proffitt winning Outstanding Lead Actress for a Musical and Natalie Mussin Phillips and Milayla Jette receiving awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for the same show. Proffitt and Chi Ejinaka also received the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play recognition for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Outstanding recognition was also awarded to Libby Blackshire (stage management) and Mussin Phillips (featured musician).

“I am so grateful that there is a place for our students and productions to be recognized, it is a true testament to the hard work of our students and staff to be recognized in so many categories,” said Caitlin Bennett, drama and choir teacher. “While the end of the year was challenging with distance learning and the cancelation of so many events, this was a bright spot in being able to celebrate our students. I can't wait until we are back in the auditorium for rehearsals and performances.”

Performing Arts Department Major Awards

This year's traditional banquet took the form of an interactive virtual event. The staff and students gathered for a live event hosted by the department with chat available throughout — available for students and staff to congratulate students who were recognized. Pre-recorded video clips were integrated into the format that celebrated our seniors while award winners were announced live which captured the excitement of each moment. Students who were recognized included:

Stars on the Rise – Presented to two outstanding freshmen who have truly shined this year and exhibit a great deal of potential for the years to come – Olivia Cotton and Ian Stewart.

MVP – Presented to two students who have participated in multiple facets of performing arts during their years at CJ. They have consistently shown evidence of influencing others, being a positive role model, and accomplishing tasks and performance objectives at a high level while working towards a common goal. They truly are CJ’s "Most Valuable Performers" – Katherine Bishop and Kaitlin Stewart.

Legendary Seniors – “We truly believe that all of our seniors are legendary and each and every one of them is worth celebrating,” Schutt said.  “They have graciously shared their gifts and talents and have been integral parts of the accomplishments and growth over the past four years in our performing arts department.” Each senior received a participation award and a special senior gift to remember their time spent in the program. All 21 seniors were visited at home and presented with their certificate and performing arts blanket.

Legendary Senior – Presented to one truly remarkable senior who has been a part of the program for all four years, exemplified in spirit, leadership, and service, and who has shown significant growth in mastering their performing arts craft in multiple areas of the program – Elizabeth Blackshire.

National School Choral Award – This national award is given in recognition of singular merit, ability, and achievement, of outstanding contributions to the success of the school vocal program, and an unusual degree of loyalty, cooperation and high qualities of conduct, by the general consent of the music faculty and school officials – Sarah Benson.

John Philip Sousa Band Award – This national award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement and interest in instrumental music, for singular merit in loyalty and cooperation, and for displaying those high qualities of conduct that school instrumental music requires – John Muhl.

Superlative Awards

Most Improved

Eagle Pride: Keely Kocur          
Concert Band: Natalia Perkins     
Percussion Ensemble: Jalon Herring      
String Ensemble: Nicholas Sabbagh              
Liturgical Choir: Brian Niebrugge Andreu
Concert Choir: De’verell Williams
Phoenix: Ayen Mayen                          
Vega: Jack Leiher               
Fall Play: Rob Culpepper
Fall Play Tech: Elizabeth Hale  
Spring Musical: Madison Meixner
Spring Musical Tech: Aspen Grey
Improv: Libby Kohls

Best Spirit

Band: Anna Mussin Phillips           
Strings: Lainey Groll
Choir: Azhani Caesar
Drama: Emma Timmons

Performing Arts Leadership Awards

Freshman: Nathan Teague
Sophomore: Jasmine Acuna
Junior: Mikayla Jette 
Senior: Annie Castonguay

Performing Arts Service Awards

Natalie Mussin Phillips
Logan Widmor

For more information on participating in CJ performing arts for the 2020-2021 season, please email Director Debi Schutt.


Published June 4, 2020

Transition into High School

New teachers, new classrooms, new classmates and new experiences — the first year of high school can be an exciting time, but also a time of great uncertainty.

The CJ senior capstone group of Staci Greene, Madeline Slaybaugh, Juliana Yoss and Samantha Zajac set out to help local eighth-grade students prepare for the many challenges of high school. The group produced a video about making the transition to high school and used it as part of a presentation to eighth-grade classes at Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Albert the Great, and St. Christopher Schools.

“My group came up with the idea of the video by thinking about our own eighth grade year and how most of our advice was from our teachers and any siblings we had in high school,” Yoss said. “The goal of the video was to enable the eighth graders to hear advice from people who were already in high school.”

The group knew it was important to offer multiple perspectives so they surveyed and spoke to a wide variety of CJ students in all grades to help give the eighth graders a comprehensive firsthand perspective.

“It was also one of our goals to show eighth grade students that when they go into high school at first it can be scary but, as time goes on, they will be alright,” Yoss said.
The group didn’t limit the input to students.

“We also wanted to include teachers to give students a look of who they will be taught by and to get a teacher’s view of things,” Zajac said.

From creating questions and surveying faculty and students to producing the actual video, the process was time consuming but the final result — all three and a half minutes of it — was incredibly rewarding. The group was on hand in each of the schools as the video was presented to close to 100 total students.

“We put a lot of work into this project, trying to make it fun, engaging, and impactful for the students,” Greene said. “We received such great feedback from them.”

They also had the opportunity to interact with and engage the eighth graders during the presentation. And whether those eighth graders become Eagles or not, they will go into high school with a bit more knowledge and confidence as a result of the Capstone project.

“We truly surprised ourselves about what a difference we were making,” Greene said. “We believe the activities we had the eighth graders do and the video we showed helped them understand that they are never alone no matter what challenges high school brings.

We met our ultimate goal which was to make a difference in these eighth graders lives and teach them something to take into high school.”


Published June 2, 2020