CJ Welcomes OLR Students for Daily Classes

With the demand for enrollment rising at Chaminade Julienne and Our Lady of Rosary, both schools tapped into their creativity and on-going alliance to accommodate a wave of new students for the 2022-2023 school year. Part of the solution was that CJ welcomed in nearly 30 eighth-grade students from OLR for their morn-
ing classes.

Each day, the young students exit their bus, bound up the steps and through the welcome center doors, and are greeted by CJ administrators who are just finishing morning prayer and announcements. Throughout their week, the eighth-graders will have had the opportunity to use CJ’s learning spaces, such as the gym, bandroom, stadium and auditorium for classes taught by teachers who serve as educators for both
schools. Students also join the CJ community for monthly Mass held at Emmanuel Church.

While CJ faculty and staff members have made adjustments to accommodate the additional students, having the OLR 8th graders on campus for morning hours has meant that Our Lady of the Rosary School had the space to start a preschool program and add a second kindergarten classroom this year.

“If our arrangement with CJ was not possible, then these young families could very well have kept their children at home. This would have been a loss for our community, and would have meant a lost year of English language services for many of them,” said Jacki Loffer ‘87, former OLR principal and now the aligned services coordinator who travels each day to CJ with the class.

When OLR parents learned about plans for commuting students to CJ, Loffer said that a few expressed concern. “They wondered if their child might get lost in the high school building or that the daily commute might negatively impact their organization and learning. When we explained how the schedule and arrangements would work, they supported the decision.”

These initial reactions turned into gratitude as parents began to see positive changes in their students. “Grades and behaviors have improved, and 16 students earned honors which is very good for the eighth grade class,” said Loffer. The class also has a high attendance rate because of the arrangement.”

OLR students have gone from initially being shy and cautious in their new learning environment to being very comfortable. “They feel more grown up! They aren’t hesitant to enter the high school hallways during class change anymore,” said Loffer. 

“They like knowing what’s coming up for them as a high school student, whether at CJ or another school. They are seeing first-hand what experiences and opportunities are available to them on a high school campus.”

Eight Years in the Making

CJ and OLR have enjoyed a partnership since the 2014-2015 school year when both schools entered into a planning stage for the alliance with the goal of shared resources and OLR working with CJ teachers to align elementary curriculum to better prepare students for high school level work.

Since implementing the plan during the 2015-2016 school year, the schools now share math, English, music and religion teachers as well as a staff member dedicated to State of Ohio scholarships in addition to learning spaces. Administrators from both schools also serve as advisors to one other.

Expanding the Idea for the 2023-2024 School Year

Though a couple of challenges have emerged this year — such as the ability to schedule “pull out” services such as special needs, counseling and English learning for OLR students during the morning, the K-12 alliance advisory committee is discussing next steps for the evolution of the partnership next year.

The committee is researching the next logical steps for the partnership which could result in more time for OLR students to be on CJ’s campus, and possibly more students. This allows for another pre-K class to be opened next year.

Research includes evaluating the resources that would be necessary for the proposed idea to be successful. In addition to spaces, staff and services that would be required, other considerations range from how much interaction OLR students will have with high school students — to where and when they will eat their lunch.

Findings will be presented to both schools in late January. With input from teachers, staff members and administrators from both schools — and continued conversations with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which has been part of approving plans and agreements from the start — both schools are hopeful that the 2023-2024 school year can bring new opportunities to both schools.

“With many conversations about the future of Catholic education locally within the
Archdiocese, it is important for CJ and OLR to continue the partnership that could lead to future creative conversations about new models for educating middle school and high school students within the Archdiocese,” said Dan Meixner ‘84, president.

“Having younger students on campus this year has been a learning opportunity for all of us,” he said. “We are open to the conversations and collaboration that will allow Catholic education to grow in our region. Our alliance with OLR — and this next step — has made it possible for us to explore what that might look like and how — working together — we can create something truly special for families seeking an outstanding Catholic educational experience.”