Student tuition was $370 a year with $90 coming from parishes and the annual salary for new teachers was $6,366. Each classroom had up to 40 students and on their way into school, students could pass by either of the two active drinking establishments near campus. When Chaminade Julienne opened its doors to its first class of students in the fall of 1973, it was a very different place than families experience today.
While there were plenty of growing pains that fall as the Julienne and Chaminade faculty, staff and students found themselves under one roof for the first time, the building blocks for success were there from the beginning.
“Fifty years is a testament to the planning and effort that went on before us and it’s a milestone on this path that we’re on going forward,” said Dan Meixner, president. “I see it as one long continuum of Notre Dame and Marianist education that we today are stewards of.”
While CJ was, at the time, a “new” school, its connection to the past remained strong with both the Marianists and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur retaining ownership and sponsorship.
“The fact that the Marianists and Sisters already had a rich history, shared history, in Dayton, Ohio made collaboration easy in the early years and now lends a strength to what we continue to experience today,” Meixner said.
The selection of the current location was also a key to the school’s success, although it was a source of contention during the planning process in the early 1970s. The central location has enabled CJ to recruit students from the entire region and positively impact the student experience.
“CJ made a commitment to stay downtown at the site of the Sisters’ first ministry in Dayton and today, we are an anchor downtown,” Tony Ricciuto ’74, said.
Ricciuto has a unique perspective as a current teacher as well as a member of CJ’s first graduating class.
For all the challenges, there were also significant successes including CJ’s recognition as a National School of Excellence in 1989.
“After 15 years of struggling to build greater stability, it was exciting for the community to recognize that CJ had arrived at that pinnacle where we were recognized nationally as an outstanding school. For some of those people who doubted what we could accomplish, that recognition was a strong indicator that clearly this mission is a success,” Meixner said.
That success story will continue into the 2023-2024 school year as the CJ community honors the past, celebrates the present and inspires the future. Meixner spoke to current teachers and staff members this week about continuing the storied tradition.
“We owe a lot to the people who made this possible,” he said. “We get to carry this into the next 50 years because of the decisions that people made in 1971, 1972, and 1973 and those teachers who figured out a way to make it work in that first decade.”
Current teachers and staff members are ready to continue the mission on the corner of Ludlow and Franklin streets.
“As educators, we are called to continue the legacy and tradition of all former teachers, coaches, and staff who helped build a firm foundation for Chaminade Julienne,” CJ principal Greg Mueller said. “The task ahead, for the next 50 years, is to keep a bold vision for the future so CJ is ready to enhance and improve the educational experience as we face current and future unknown challenges with courage, faith, and grace.”