September 2020

Senior Kathryn Schinaman Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist

Chaminade Julienne senior Kathryn Schinaman is in elite company as the Tipp City resident was recently named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. Schinaman will continue on in the competition to become a National Merit Finalist.

"I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend Chaminade Julienne and for all I have gained academically and spiritually during my high school career,” Schinaman said. “I have been blessed to experience diversity and participate in travel and social justice projects that have framed who I am as a leader.”

The 17-year-old puts her words about leadership into action as the current CJ student council president. She served as class president her freshman, sophomore and junior years. Schinaman is also a member of the Eagle Ambassador leadership team and the Student Development Chair club as well as a National Honor Society member. She previously played golf and lacrosse for the Eagles and was a member of the Mock Trial team.

“My experiences at CJ have shaped me into the person that I am today, and I am so grateful for the CJ leaders and teachers who have always supported me and helped bring out the best in me as a student and person,” she said.

Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools across the country entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Of those 1.5 million students, approximately 16,000 were recognized as Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program – which represents less than 1 percent of the high school students in the United States. About 15,000 students are expected to advance to the Finalist level and will be notified of that designation in February 2021.

While Schinaman is still making college decisions, her favorite CJ classes to date have been AP biology and AP psychology and she has enjoyed the biomedical science program as well as her volunteer work at Miami Valley Hospital.


The Show Goes On, Virtually

The show must go on – the show, however, will likely look very different.

While students are back at Chaminade Julienne, changes are noticeable. The changes are apparent in the classroom, on the playing field and on stage as performing arts have been greatly impacted by ongoing COVID-19 concerns and restrictions.

“Similar to most processes of how we do things at school, we have had to change how we teach and plan our classes and activities,” drama and choir teacher Caitlin Bennett said. “Broadway has gone dark, but we are committed to still providing performance opportunities for our students following all safety protocols.”

School closures in the spring meant the cancellation of both the Night of One Acts and the Spring Pops Concert but, while there are no live performance currently scheduled, the performing arts faculty members are working to find creative and safe alternatives.

“We have had to rethink what is most important for our students participating in performing arts and make sure we keep those in the forefront of our minds as we reimagine marching band, choir, theatre, a cappella, band, and our various ensembles,” Bennett said.

Rethinking and reimagining are what the arts community does best.

“The creativity of our performing arts staff will be on full display this year as we navigate how to showcase our students' talents while keeping our students and community safe and healthy,” principal Greg Mueller said.

First up on the virtual playbill will be a Night of Virtual One Act Plays in November. More than 50 students have already committed their time and talent to the virtual one-act event. 

“They are excited to be involved and I think they are craving ways to create and be together,” Bennett said. “One of the things we know is most important to our students in being involved in performing arts is being together and the community that is created through their shared experiences. We want to still provide opportunities for them to create together – whether virtually or together.”

In addition to the Night of Virtual Once Acts, there are plans for a cappella to soon begin virtually as well. Due to the current block schedule, both band and choir are scheduled for the second semester and future performance possibilities will be assessed at that time.

"CJ continues to amaze me with its ability to adapt and adjust to these new conditions,” Mueller said. “We are truly a blessed community with so much talent. I look forward to 'watching' as part of the virtual audience in the next few months.”


-- This story was published on Sept. 17, 2020. 

The Power of a United School Community

Reopening a school each year is complex enough.

There are new documents and waivers to produce, deliver and receive signed from parents, students, faculty and staff. There are positions to fill and new students to be oriented as well as veteran employees and older students to reorient. Curriculums to update, new uniforms to be sized and purchased, transportation, athletics and extracurriculars. It adds up, every single year.

Adjusting all of that and more in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic is no small feat.

“While we are proud of our distance learning experience in the spring, surveys of our parents, students, and teachers demonstrated a strong interest in returning to in-school learning as soon as possible,” said Dan Meixner, president, Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. “We felt we had to give our best effort to reopening the school for in-person learning.”

Chaminade Julienne’s decision to reopen campus was complex and, certainly, was not made without extensive planning, preparation and teamwork. It also meant calling all employees together mid-summer to apprise them of the working plan and invite faculty and staff to offer feedback.

To plan, CJ leadership worked to assemble a task force to address the bevy of new challenges and circumstances they would be operating in for the coming year. This task force was organized with three main areas of concern: health and safety, academics, and student activities.

Comprised of members from CJ leadership, administration, faculty and staff as well as select parents and community members, the task forces worked diligently to develop a plan that covered the bases as well as possible, but also left room for impending adjustments and built-in pivot points in case the school needed to shift plans in light of rapidly changing circumstances.

Since collaboration is an essential element of school culture because of the influence of the Marianists, CJ sought insight and guidance from other Catholic schools in the region as well as Marianist and Notre Dame schools around the country. They kept a constant line of communication with health officials at the local and state levels, and consulted with the most up-to-date information distributed by national organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

After an initial release of the reopening plan, “The Light Ahead,” CJ sought feedback from parents. A special email address was established for parents to submit questions, concerns or general feedback to regarding The Light Ahead. This step was crucial in getting a new, incredibly important perspective on reopening campus. CJ also hosted a virtual question and answer session to discuss the plan with parents in real time.

“Having such a collaborative community is an invaluable tool for us,” said Meixner. “From students and parents to faculty and staff, everyone involved has shown the true meaning and power of a united school community.”

Some of the biggest process changes CJ implemented were a new four by four block schedule in lieu of the traditional eight period school day, mandatory face coverings, staggered arrival and dismissal times, updated lunch procedures to cut down on contact and movement, new visitor and attendance policies and more.

In terms of brick and mortar changes, CJ brought on an expert safety coordinator to help install things like mounted digital thermometers for temperature checks, socially distanced classrooms, outside lunch areas and new signage to direct flow in hallways and on staircases, among other things, all to help ensure safety on campus.

Even while developing measures to maximize safety, CJ also wanted to be as prepared as possible to respond in the event of a community member testing positive for COVID-19. The task forces worked with local and state health officials to develop a detailed response plan to enact if there is a positive case. This plan includes a transition to distance learning and work from home procedures for at least two school days to enable proper cleaning and sanitization on campus, contact tracing and quarantining for those who fall into the contact trail, a full distance learning plan and more.

Throughout all this, from the initial planning to editing, implementing building changes and, finally, reopening, collaboration and adaptation were crucial to success. There is no game plan for how to adjust to COVID-19, no precedent to base plans on. One of the only certain things CJ could rely on was the power of community.

“We have tried to create as much certainty as possible for our students, parents and staff, but we have to be humble enough to recognize that we are not really in charge as we experience this pandemic together,” said Meixner. “We do know that we’re prepared to venture toward new challenges united together as a community inspired by the goodness of God.”

You can view CJ’s full reopening plan on their website here.


-- This story was published on September 14, 2020.