More than 1,400 students have completed more than 400 projects addressing social justice issues throughout the Miami Valley, including schools and nonprofit organizations. The Chaminade Julienne Senior Capstone project has been making a difference on campus and in the community for a decade. From Five Rivers MetroParks and Catholic Social Services to SICSA and St. Vincent de Paul Dayton, CJ students – guided by their interests, faith, and personal connections – build on their years of service by completing a group social justice-oriented project.
“They are only limited by their own imagination,” said Molly Bardine, English department chair and Senior Capstone coordinator. “Moving from service to social justice, they use the skills and lessons they’ve learned to make an impact.”
First introduced as part of a pilot program during the 2012-13 school year, students put
the traditions of the school’s two founding orders – the Marianists and the Sisters of Notre Dame
de Namur – into action by implementing projects that connect back to Catholic Social Teaching.
Seniors work in groups of two, three or four for an entire year to complete four phases of the
Capstone including participation in the annual Stang Symposium.
Bardine has been at the helm of the program from the beginning, but it was a team effort
as Kelli Kinnear, director of ministry and service, and Sr. Nicole Trahan, FMI, campus minister,
were instrumental in the Capstone’s creation and development. Bardine was mentored by
University of Dayton president emeritus Bro. Raymond L. Fitz.
“He helped me to really understand how to bring the message of what servant leadership
is all about to our students,” Bardine said. “And how to inspire our seniors to see themselves that way.”
Fitz, also a professor of social change at UD, was on board from the outset.
“I was very supportive of the proposal for the Senior Capstone project,” he said. “It is
very important for students to know the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. The Capstone
project went beyond that, giving students the opportunity to reflect and plan how those principles can be applied to real issues of economic and racial justice in our Greater Dayton community.”
Beyond the community impact, the students’ culminating experience, in some cases, lays
the groundwork for future endeavors.
“We have alumni who have shared with me how their Capstone project formed them,”
Bardine said. “I’ve heard former students who can pinpoint an experience that guided their future research or career path, grounded in servant leadership, and my eyes start tearing up.”
"Capstone provided an opportunity not only explore and serve my local community, but it also instilled a passion for positive stewardship and change in the world around me," said Omar Brown '19. "How I view the issues in my community, why I work towards pursuits of compassion, and the care I want to bring to those around me; these were all nurtured and empowered at Chaminade Julienne and through efforts like the Capstone Project."
The scope of Capstone has expanded beyond the CJ campus and even the community as
McNicholas High School and the Miami Valley School both have a culminating Capstone-type
program and Badin High School implemented its own Stang Symposium two years ago.
“I feel like it’s a vision realized,” Bardine said.