CJ to spend $2.5M on campus improvements

Downtown Catholic high school to begin another project this spring.

Chaminade Julienne High School will begin a $2.5 million renovation this spring, continuing a multiyear effort to update buildings that date to 1951 and update a block of downtown Dayton tied to school founders since 1849.

The school building is actually three attached structures constructed in the 1950s and ’60s. School officials said the 1951 Building One — which starts at the corner of Ludlow and Washington streets and goes north for a half-block — will get new heating and cooling systems, electrical and plumbing work, and new ceilings and flooring throughout. Seven classrooms, the cafeteria and the band room will be renovated.

The work will begin over Easter break, with most of it ending in August and all work done in 2015. CJ President Dan Meixner said the upcoming changes are the result of a 12-year process in which the school has gone from largely “a building, a little bit of grass and some parking lots” to a nearly 17-acre campus with upgraded STEMM Center classrooms and surrounding athletic facilities.

“Our community said the first focus should be the teaching and learning environment — classrooms, science labs, performing arts spaces,” Meixner said. “There’s much more collaborative learning that happens today … Spaces have to be flexible enough that you can get groups of kids working together, or (listening to a lecture), or taking assessments in the same space.”

Meixner said when the 2015 work is finished, half of the school will be air conditioned, with the rest of the school planned for future phases.

“We moved kids off the third floor as much as we could on the hottest days,” he said. “The reality is it does affect learning when it’s 92 degrees in the classroom.”

The renovations are possible because of CJ’s Leading in Faith Today fundraising effort. CJ officials say they received another $3.1 million via the LIFT campaign in the past year, giving them $16.5 million of their multiyear goal of $20 million.

Joe and Mary Geraghty are CJ grads whose parents went to CJ and whose children still do. Joe Geraghty, now a CJ trustee, said his family supported LIFT hoping CJ would follow the values of the founding Marianists and Sisters of Notre Dame — being active in the community, being inclusive and focusing on service to the poor, as well as developing an outstanding education for students.

“As any school does, they have to refresh themselves,” Geraghty said. “The whole effort on the LIFT campaign is to reinvigorate the CJ community, reinvest in it, and build the foundation for the next 50 years.”

CJ senior Francesca Weizman said students appreciate the changes that have already occurred, from upgraded classrooms in the school’s STEMM Center, to better computers that allow students to get work done faster.

“Physically (the campus) is a lot different now. It’s kind of like you’re in two whole different buildings, and they don’t look the same,” she said. “When I got here we didn’t have any of the STEMM rooms. It really has improved everybody’s view of the school.”

Dieter Krewedl, a 1961 Chaminade High alumnus, is a retired geologist in California, but he came back a few years ago to talk to science students. He became a LIFT donor because he liked the combination of STEMM education, religious focus and quality faculty.

“I also really support the idea of having a mix of cultures and economic and ethnic backgrounds that they have at Chaminade,” Krewedl said.

Meixner said the response of 160 major donors joining 4,000 annual donors has affirmed his confidence in CJ’s path. He said enrollment has grown in the past four years at the non-Archdiocesan Catholic school, and there are long-range plans for some new construction, including an athletic fieldhouse. But the focus now is on the school’s historic home.

“A lot of what we did for years was quiet and dirty,” Meixner said, referring to asbestos removal, window replacement and demolition of surrounding buildings. “What’s exciting about the Eagle Tennis Center, the CJ STEMM Center, and about the next project is that it’s something visual and tangible that our students and teachers can use.”

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