April 2019

Honoring the Class of 2019 Distinguished Alumni

Dedication, determination and commitment — this year’s Chaminade Julienne Distinguished Alumni honorees share many of those traits. While their life journeys varied greatly, the origins of their callings are firmly rooted in the solid education and strong faith formation of Chaminade Julienne.

Reverend Luke Ballman ‘83
The Associate Director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life & Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., Rev. Ballman was ordained in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2001. In addition to his work as parochial vicar, pastor, vocation director and vicar for clergy in Atlanta, he also served in Rome as Director of Apostolic Formation at the Pontifical North American College. While his life of faith has spanned the globe, the foundation of that journey began at CJ.

“CJ instilled in me the habit of virtue, which had already taken root in me because of my parents. My teachers, coaches, and high school friends cultivated in me more deeply the habits of honesty, hard work, discipline, and above all, Christian charity. Regardless of the situations that life throws my way, I fall back on these habits of Christian virtue to guide my path.”

Col. Christopher Gunther (ret), USMC. ‘70
The now retired colonel joined the Marine Corps in 1974 after graduating from the University of Minnesota. One of his most notable feats was commanding the successful mission to rescue United States Air Force pilot Scott O'Grady, downed over Bosnia. While his military career began after college, his high school experience prepared him for that challenging career in three ways.

“Academically, by awakening a real interest in science and technology – and realizing that I could only master these subjects by studying hard. Sports – some of the most meaningful experiences of my high school years were playing team sports – football taught us the need to master the basics, the value of teamwork, and never to ‘read our press clippings.’ Faith – the most important thing taught at Chaminade – the example of the Marianist community as well as all of the lay members of the staff, how they lived their lives and their dedication to the students exemplified the life of faith they all lived.”

Peter Healy, ‘84
The President of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare administration. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton and earned a master's degree in healthcare administration from Xavier University. While he acknowledges the importance of the academic foundation CJ provided, his alma mater gave him many tools for success.

“I would say my education at CJ helped me in two critical ways. First, it taught me how to actually be a student and how to really learn. My time at CJ prepared me far better than I appreciated at the time for my next steps at the University of Dayton and then Xavier University. I was very well prepared to manage those academic environments. The second and more important learning I had at CJ was how to conduct myself as a member of a community in the Marianist tradition. Things that I had learned in my home and that are critical to life and career success were explicitly and implicitly reinforced at CJ. Things like respect, service to others, honesty, humility, generosity, patience, kindness, compassion, teamwork, social justice, forgiveness and integrity.”

Joseph McCracken ‘71
The biopharmaceutical advisor consults with companies about the design and implementation of corporate strategy and the development of business initiatives. He has contributed to the research and development of pharmaceutical products used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders. While there were many people who contributed to his success, he is now focused on helping others succeed.

“I just feel humbled to be considered along with the truly distinguished alumni. I also feel grateful for my education and for the many people who taught me and were supportive of me in my education and throughout my career.  With their support and encouragement I have accomplished things that I never imagined were possible, and I am now able to ‘give back’ by supporting individuals, organizations and institutions that are committed to the well-being of people, animals and our environment.” 

Sr. Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN, ’60
Sr. Rita set out to be a teacher, not a trendsetter but, in the end, she was both. Her early ministries were in the classroom but as she explained, “that classroom just kept getting bigger and bigger” as she accepted various professional challenges. She was the first director of development of Notre Dame High School in Chicago, the first International Director of Mission Integration Research for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the first president of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati and the first U.S. Director of Mission Integration for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. All of those firsts are deeply rooted in her Julienne High School experience.

“Over these years, I have been privileged to touch many lives through teaching and administration in Catholic schools. Then I worked on behalf of Catholic schools or in spreading the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. My class grew from 42 eighth graders in Chicago to 134 schools across the Archdiocese, then to the United States and beyond. I am truly blessed by such enriching and interesting opportunities to create new endeavors and contacts with so many  people. I am deeply grateful to the many educators who assisted me with these projects.”

The Distinguished Alumni Class of 2019 were honored at a dinner at CJ on Thursday, April 25. Congratulations to all recipients!

Posted April 24, 2019

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CJ Teacher, Senior, Named Winners in Sinclair Poetry Contest

An assignment for an English class resulted in both a student, and the teacher, being recognized for their poems.

English teacher Dan Eiser gave his creative writing class an assignment to write a poem and submit it for the Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Award - one of the award categories honored during the Sinclair Community College’s English department’s annual Creative Writing Awards.

“Our students submit their pieces to various contests in the area,” Eiser explained. “One of my students mentioned that this contest had an adult category too, and that I should enter.”

Both Eiser and Maria Osnaya ‘19 won in the adult and high school categories, respectively.

“In my poem, Y Por Eso Digo Gracias, I use a twist on words to release my emotions on seeing the side of the world my mother grew up on, how that formed her, and how my grandparents will now form me into a woman like my mother,” Osnaya shared. “I also talk about how both worlds (the U.S. and Mexico) are connected by the same stars.”

“My poem was titled, Rocks, Fences and Tamales,” Eiser said. “The poem itself was an exploration of life as a biracial person and how I feel about my identity. Growing up with a Mexican mom and Caucasian dad was a challenge especially in my teenage years where you really start to explore who you are. In the poem, I explore the possibility of not finding that out and then just living outside of the two worlds in my own world.”

Eiser and Osnaya performed their poems when they were honored at the Creative Writing Awards on April 15.

“I had an outstanding experience performing my poem in front of the audience, and seeing my mother getting emotional humbled me,” Osnaya said. “I never expected to win, but since I did, I am beyond words of gratefulness for all who got me to where I am today.”

Eiser added, “It was really special for me to see Maria win. I remember all the work she put into that poem earlier in the year and was so happy she received recognition for that effort. Many of our students are talented and I think others would be surprised at how many of these students have a strong voice. I hope more students continue to feel comfortable enough to share that voice.”

You can read Osnaya’s poem here.

Posted April 24, 2019

Charlie Szabo '98 Named Men's Basketball Head Coach

We welcome Charlie Szabo ‘98 as the next head coach for the Eagles men’s basketball team. Szabo played basketball for the Eagles during his time at the high school and has served in various roles with the men’s basketball team for 15 seasons. His most recent role was the head coach for the junior varsity men’s basketball team and the associate head varsity coach.

“I grew up loving Eagle basketball and to lead this program is a dream come true,” Szabo said. “To lead the long-storied tradition of this basketball program is a goal I’ve worked hard for and a responsibility I take very seriously.”

“I am thankful for our search committee and their time and dedication during our search process,” CJ athletic director Jeremy Greenleaf said. “The committee overwhelmingly agreed that Charlie’s passion for the program, understanding of the Catholic mission and loyalty made him the best fit to lead the men’s basketball team.”

Szabo was named the District 15 Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the CJ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.

Szabo replaces Joe Staley ‘72, who announced his retirement in February after serving more than 30 years as the Eagles men’s basketball head coach.

Posted April 17, 2019

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Capstone Creates "Green" Opportunities

While Chaminade Julienne’s school colors are “green and blue,” students helped the school community become more “green” as part of a Senior Capstone project.

Justin Arestides, James Blackshire, Noah Jackson and Aaron Meixner said their Capstone focused on steps needed to be made to make CJ a verified “green” school by the Green Schools Initiative.

“The school needed to complete 12 things on the list to be certified, but because of timing, our group focused on two impactful items — creating a student organization (the Environmental Club) and participating in the Great American Cleanup in March,” the group shared. “We also wanted to inspire younger students at CJ to continue our Capstone by taking further steps to get CJ certified, or at the very least, inspire them take care of the environment just like how we were inspired!”

Each member of the Capstone group said they were inspired to take on this project for different reasons.

“James and Aaron wrote about the environment for their ISJRP (integrated social justice research project,) Noah and James are both Eagle Scouts, and Justin enjoys the outdoors by going on long hikes,” the group shared. “It was through service and time outdoors that made us want to take care of the Earth more, and hence, our Capstone was born.”

The group shared that through their Capstone, they created the Environmental Club, with more than 50 students becoming members.

“We worked at the MEEC (Marianist Environmental Education Center), Aullwood, and hopefully the Dayton Metroparks once the weather gets more predictable,” the group said. “Club members were also instrumental at the Great American Cleanup.

“Our project isn't quite done; however, since we still have plenty planned for the future,” the group continued. “Service opportunities from MEEC, Aullwood, and more will continue until the end of the school year, and hopefully newly inspired students will keep doing service for years to come. Our goal is to pass the baton and allow younger students to keep the Environmental Club going, as well as moving towards the original certification. We're really looking forward to CJ's future in sustainability!”

Posted April 18, 2019

Juniors Honored in Local Architecture Competition

Two juniors were recognized as winners in the American Institute of Architects, Dayton Chapter (AIA Dayton) 37th annual Art in Architecture Student Design Competition. Max Baldwin ‘20 and Cooper Mullins ‘20 entered the competition as part of a class assignment in their Civil Engineering and Architecture class.

“I'm honored to have been recognized,” said Baldwin. “I intend to pursue a career in engineering, so it's super cool to have been acknowledged for my art before even starting my career.”

Mullins agreed, “It's nice to see that people recognize my hard work”

According to the AIA Dayton website, “This year’s project was to design a tiny house on a site located in northwest Dayton, Ohio. The program was open to college-bound high school students, grades 9 through 12, interested in art, architecture, or design in Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Shelby Counties. 52 students from nine area high schools participated in the program. Students were assisted with this project by their high school advisers as well as a team of architects and associate architects from AIA Dayton.”

“My favorite part of the project was seeing my ideas become a reality,” shared Mullins.

“I really enjoyed being able to utilize both my creative and mathematical sides to do something awesome,” reflected Baldwin.

Both Baldwin and Mullins received Honorable Mention Book Awards of $200 each, provided by Synergy Building and Bowser-Morner Inc.

Posted April 11, 2019

Capstone Sheds Light on Families Impacted by Incarceration

As part of their Senior Capstone Project, four students challenged their classmates and the greater community to make a change for families impacted by incarceration.

The group of Diana Ekezie, Siana Jenkins, Kelli Rutlin and Alyssa Whatley were invested in this topic even before they were seniors.

“Kelli was very passionate about the subject and brought it up last year,” Whatley said. “We decided to pursue it especially since it has an effect severely on the African American community to which we represent, but as well as other people of color and those who fall under the categories of minorities.”

As part of the group’s implementation of their project, they conducted interviews for a podcast which can be found on the CJ website under the senior capstone featured stories section.

On the podcast, the group talked with guests who were personally impacted by incarceration.

In her reflections of her capstone project, Ekezie said, “By doing this Capstone, I was able to attain knowledge about an issue that is not widely talked about. I wanted to be a part of this project to gain insight into significant issues that aren’t expressed and help be an advocate for the underrepresented community and by doing this I feel I’ve taken a step toward this.”

Jenkins added, “This Capstone has provided me with the information necessary for me to spread awareness of the impact of the prison system on the dignity, self-improvement, families, and community of a prisoner. I’ve also learned about how important prison reform programs are for the blossoming of the incarcerated.”

“This Capstone has given me insights about an issue that I am somewhat familiarized with,” Rutlin shared. “I found that everything is not black and white in the justice system, yet it is an intricate system that often causes injustice when that is not its intention. Incarceration and the family dynamic are heavily influenced on each other especially in the black community where there is a high percentage of single parent households due to the incarceration of parents.”

The group also wrote letters to U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman urging the two to work on a bill for families affected by incarceration.

“Fundamentally, it would give these families a bridge of access to job fairs and centers to aid them in finding work and/or careers that they find passion in and providing services to the children by enabling them to locate tutors, mentors and counseling if needed,” the letter stated. “They wouldn’t have to worry about requisitions in order to receive this help; the families would automatically qualify and this hypothetical system would reach out to them using a database that analyzes the milieu of every incoming inmate so that their family would not have to suffer from the mistakes that their love ones chose to make with their own free will.”

The group also asked members of the CJ community to sign in support of their letter.

Written in collaboration with Kerry Kadel '21

Posted April 9, 2019

Seniors Sign Letters of Intent for Military and Athletics

Six students in the Class of 2019 signed their letter of intent to continue playing the sport they love or protecting our country as part of the CJ Signing Day.

Shane Cokes, Logan Jennings, Hunter Johns, Brendan Kadel, Abby Rau, and Nick Wissman all made their commitments on Tuesday, April 2.

Read more about what’s next for each student:

Shane Cokes (football, Dartmouth College)
“I feel like the world class education Dartmouth will provide me is something I couldn't pass up. Football wise, it felt like great fit and was like home. I want to bring my hard work ethic and resilience to my future adventures. I feel like those two qualities will help me greatly in the future.

“CJ has taught me a lot in my four years here. It has taught me how to interact with many different people, how to handle uncomfortable situations, how to always strive to be great at what I do, and to always believe in myself.”

Logan Jennings (soccer, University of Mount Union)
“I chose Mount Union because they came to watch me at a college showcase and they noticed my talent on the field. They remained in contact with me for over a year and that commitment really drew me to that school. I hope to bring the sense of community that I have felt over these past four years with me. The passion that I felt here at CJ is really unmatched.

“I would like the thank the CJ community for pushing us to make it to this point in our career. It really means a lot to all of us to have such a supportive community with us through this process.”

Hunter Johns (wrestling, United States Naval Academy)
“I chose the Naval Academy for a few reasons. The first being the opportunity to go to the Academy on a full scholarship without having to worry about students loans and debts. The second reason is that I'll get the chance to serve in the military upon graduation, which is something my brothers are doing now and something that runs in the family. Finally, I really love the campus and the wrestling program and room. It just seems like a perfect fit for me.

“I hope to bring my intelligence from CJ with me to the Academy. But on a more serious note, I hope to bring my sense of belonging and community with me. CJ has felt like such a home and a place where I belong these past for years and I hope that the Naval Academy has that sense of community and belonging.

“CJ has been an incredible home these last 4 years. CJ has helped me grow into the person I am today. The teachers and students are one of a kind who wishes nothing but the best for me. I am truly so very grateful for the opportunity to spend my high school career at the best school in the world. I will always be an Eagle!”

CJ wrestling head coach, Joel Sanchez, added, “I am excited for Hunter and his family.  Moments like these are what makes coaching great. It was a tremendous honor to coach a young man like Hunter. He demonstrated incredible leadership this season as the captain of the wrestling team. He is a well-rounded young man and I have no doubt Hunter will have success at the next level.”

Brendan Kadel (ROTC, University of Dayton)
“I chose the University of Dayton ROTC because many of my family members have attended the University of Dayton, including my grandpa who also did UD ROTC.  From CJ I have learned to work well with people which is a skill I hope to carry with me throughout my future careers.

“I was very fortunate to attend Chaminade Julienne. Throughout my time here I have learned many lessons that I will carry with me the for the rest of my life.”

Abby Rau (lacrosse, Transylvania University)
“I chose Transylvania University because it was a similar embracing atmosphere as CJ but in a larger community. The lacrosse team, coaches and students have been very welcoming and genuinely excited for me to become a pioneer. I hope to bring a positive attitude, a strong sense of leadership and be a motivated student-athlete in my time at Transylvania University.

"CJ has taught me to be the best student, person of faith and athlete I can truly be. I am grateful that CJ has set me up for a successful future."

CJ women’s lacrosse head coach, Danielle Cash, added, “Abby has always been determined and driven. She’s also been tough — tough, on herself and especially her opponents. I have been proud to be Abby’s lacrosse coach.”

Nick Wissman (baseball, University of Dayton)
“UD is a really good academic school, has a great baseball coaching staff and team, and is close to home. I hope to continue to develop as a person as I move on from CJ. These past four years I have grown as a better person because of the schooling system I have been a part of.

“My four years at CJ have been the best of my life. I have been able to create new relationships, play with my brother for a couple years as well as making a state run with him, and win a state championship with a group of guys I consider to be family. It will be hard to move on from such a great place but knowing I spent my time here enjoying it makes it a little easier.”

CJ baseball head coach, Mike Barhorst ‘85, added, “It made me so happy knowing Nick was going to have the opportunity to compete at the next level, especially at the Division I level.  Nick has worked very hard and earned everything he’s accomplished. He’s been an invaluable asset to our program since he arrived. I’m very excited to see him perform at the next level.”

Posted April 4, 2019

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Capstone Celebrates Green Week

“Rock with the green and roll with the blue.”

That was one message Grace Jackson, Maria Scaccia, Courtney Schaefer and Kelsey Wolf emphasized as they organized Green Week at CJ.

Throughout the week, the seniors organized activities, showcased videos, and inspired others to think about where their trash goes. They also invited others to purchase CJ Green Week t-shirts.

The week culminated with the unveiling of the school’s new trash and recycling bins which are currently located in Building One. The group secured these news bins through a grant from the Montgomery County solid waste district grant program. The celebration of the new bins was recorded on Facebook Live (watch here).

On May 1, during the annual CJ Service Awards, the group was honored with the Spirit of Sr. Dorothy Stang Award from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati — a special award given to select groups for their demonstration for caring of the Earth and applying Catholic Social Teaching through service. 

The seniors shared that they hope other students continue this sustainability and awareness effort throughout the entire school.

Posted April 4, 2019; Updated May 3, 2019