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LOCAL INNOVATION: CENTER GROVE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS USE STEM SKILLS TO TACKLE REAL-LIFE PROBLEMS Students at Center Grove High School hope to change the lives of those around them in Johnson County and beyond.
7 On a Mission: Greenwood Kroger
18 Savoring Success: Jason Crouch
Team Helping Local Causes & Nonprofits
10 Hitting a High Note: Local Resident
Michelle Cox Performs on NBC’s “The Voice”
15 Local Innovation: Center Grove
Wins Chef of the Year Award From the American Culinary Federation’s Indy Chapter
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High School Students Use STEM Skills to Tackle Real-Life Problems
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Greenwood Kroger Team Helping Local Causes & Nonprofits Writer / Jon Shoulders Photography Provided
from some help through measures such as donations and care packages.
A group of dedicated staff members at the Kroger grocery store on State Road 135 in Greenwood are working diligently to help benefit several local businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“We all put ideas on the table and figure out how we want to connect with the community,” says DeVaney, a retired teacher who began working for Kroger in 2016 and immediately joined the company’s Our Promise team.
Allison DeVaney, who works as the wine and spirits steward in the adult beverage department at the Greenwood Kroger, serves as a member of the store’s Our Promise team. The group meets at the beginning of each year to assess which organizations and causes might benefit
The first project that DeVaney and her fellow Our Promise team members put together was a donation program to benefit Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter. The team set up flyers and a large bin at the front of the store, and Kroger matched customer cat
food donations up to $100 for the shelter, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. “Sometimes when we have store resets and things are taken out of the store, we mark products down, and there are customers that always stop in those sections first,” DeVaney says. “We did a complete pet reset, and we had all these things like cat litter, food and toys, and we could have marked them down but sometimes we get credit for donating those things. I thought it would be a great idea to partner with Rosie’s Shelter.” The Greenwood Kroger Our Promise team
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also recently partnered with Erich Orrick, vice president of the WISH for OUR HEROES Indiana chapter, and helped put together care packages for active military members recently deployed to the Middle East. The team set a large bin inside the store and stationed team members next to items throughout the store that were specifically requested for inclusion in the care packages. DeVaney says the response from shoppers was extremely positive, and the team is currently raising funds to help cover care package shipping costs. “My son graduated from Center Grove last year and enlisted in the Army while he was a senior,” DeVaney says. “It’s hard because you can’t communicate with family during boot camp. When we would send letters in the mail it would improve our entire day, and knowing how good it felt to get letters and for my son to get letters, we started thinking about what we could do to pay that kind of feeling forward.” DeVaney says all Kroger locations consist of internal Our Promise teams that help out with local causes specific to each Kroger location. “We also do a lot of fundraising as an enterprise, for Riley and Komen and things like that,” DeVaney adds. “But then we can branch off and do other things like what we’re doing with our care packages. The Kroger community is pretty amazing, and I hope we can keep up what we’re doing with giving back through the Our Promise team.” For more info, call 317-530-3086 or visit Kroger at 5961 North State Road 135 in Greenwood.
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Hitting a High Note Local Resident Michelle Cox Performs on NBC’s “The Voice” Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing Photography / Provided
When Michelle “Chelle” Cox was nine years old, her grandfather moved into her family’s Bargersville home. Cox, who had been singing for as long as she had been talking, was always flitting around the house, bursting into song. One day her grandpa told her parents, “Chelle’s really good for a nine-year-old. You should consider getting her involved in something to help grow this talent.” Cox sang in her middle school choir, but she elected to home school throughout high school. When she was 13, she asked her mom to set up a YouTube channel where she could post snippets of her talent. “I was in love with Justin Bieber, and I knew YouTube was how he got recognized,” says Cox, who began performing at birthday parties and church events. For the past year, Cox, 19, has worked in the Center Grove area as a preschool teacher. “It wears me out, but I love it,” says Cox, who plans to study early childhood education and/or music education at Wabash College this fall. Cox incorporates music into her classroom every day, whether it’s singing “Happy Birthday”, the national anthem, or Christmas carols. “Music will always play a part in whatever I do,” she says. 10 / CENTER GROVE MAGAZINE / APRIL 2020 / atCenterGrove.com
Earlier this year, Cox worked up the courage to audition for NBC’s television series “The Voice” and sang a Billie Eilish song. Cox, whose blind audition aired on February 25, says she’s typically a nervous wreck before stepping on stage. On her audition day, however, she was calm, cool and collected. “I always pray before I sing, and the fact that a peace washed over me that day - I took that as validation that God was putting me in the right place at the right time,” says Cox, who impressed all four celebrity judges, three of whom invited her onto their team. Ultimately, Cox decided to ask Kelly Clarkson, one of the show’s judges, to coach her. Cox has taken very little professional training, having worked with a vocal coach for a couple of months when she was nine years old. “I will vouch for ‘The Voice’ 100%, forever,” Cox says. “They are the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. They push every musician so hard, but give us nothing but confidence and professional feedback as well.” Cox calls performing on “The Voice” an incredible adrenaline rush. “I’m my happiest self when I’m on stage,” she says. “I cannot put into words what it feels like when you step off that stage after doing something you love. It’s like floating in the sky and knowing you’ll never fall.” Elton John, Carrie Underwood and Stevie Wonder rank as some of Cox’s favorite performing artists of all time. When Cox told her family that she had made it onto the popular show, her parents were excited but not at all surprised. “My mom told me, ‘I always knew you’d do something big,’” Cox says. Her students were also thrilled to see their teacher perform somewhere other than the classroom. The day after her audition aired, they came running into the classroom yelling, “We saw you on TV!” Cox feels thankful for the chance to share her love of the arts with the world. atCenterGrove.com / APRIL 2020 / CENTER GROVE MAGAZINE / 11
“I think that having music or some type of art form is critical for children to develop correctly,” says Cox, noting that the same is true for teens and adults. “I think it’s an incredible way for people to have an outlet. Music and art have saved a lot of people from a lot of things. Music is incredibly important for mental health.” Cox describes herself as a typical 19-year-old girl who enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Trenton, and her nephew, Matthew. “My nephew is the light of my life - being an aunt is my favorite thing in the world,” says Cox, who also enjoys hair and makeup styling. “I have an entire closet filled with makeup and I’m not even joking.” Cox enjoys hiking, collecting rocks, and many other outdoor pursuits. She’s also an avid animal lover with three dogs and three cats of her own. In the past she’s had pet mice, turtles, lizards and frogs. As she looks to the future, Cox hopes to increase her YouTube following. She would also like to start writing her own music.
What do life,” the symbols mean? missing digits“I would love to keep music in my Cox says. “My dream is for
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Students Madison Hammill, Mahek Agrawal & Athulya Nair with their teacher Andrea Teevan.
LOCAL INNOVATION Center Grove High School Students Use STEM Skills to Tackle Real-Life Problems Writer / Jennifer Brugh Photographer / Amy Counts
Students at Center Grove High School hope to change the lives of those around them in Johnson County and beyond. With the help of their teacher, Andrea Teevan, three young ladies are currently making national news by advancing in the tenth annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Seniors Mahek Agrawal, Madison Hammill and Athulya Nair made the list of national contest finalists, securing their place in the
next level of the competition. The contest encourages students in grades 6 through 12 to use science, technology, engineering and math skills to solve an issue in their community. Out of more than 2,000 initial entries, 100 were chosen as state winners. Only 20 were chosen to compete at the national level and win a $50,000 technology and resources package for the school being represented.
now there’s not much, if any, insulation in their houses,” Nair says. “We want to make it so it’s more easily accessible for them to use themselves, instead of having to have another person come in and install it for them.” The prototype that Agrawal, Hammill and Nair created consists of four layers, and uses the chemical reaction between sodium polyacrylate and water to create a gel with a high R-value (which is the measure of how well a barrier such as insulation resists heat). “They took it upon themselves and they ran with it,” Teevan says of the three students. “They’re truly just young adults, but they are so mature beyond the average classroom student. They’re super smart and can have a conversation. They went out and got their own resources for it.”
Nair says she and her two classmates came up with a plan to focus on insulation - a significant Agrawal says the goal is to have the challenge for those living in mobile homes. insulation packaged, so that it only needs “We’re trying to make it so that mobile homes water to activate. It will also have an have more insulation, because typically, right
atCenterGrove.com / APRIL 2020 / CENTER GROVE MAGAZINE / 15
adhesive backing to make the product easy to apply directly to walls. “The idea is that this plastic would actually let water molecules through, and the powder is already inside, so you just spray it with water and get the gel wet so it insulates,” Agrawal says. According to the seniors’ submission video, their product, which they say could come in either small squares or in a large, rolled format, could help decrease heat loss in mobile homes by 63%. The trio will have the opportunity to present their prototype and solution to a panel of Samsung judges in New York City, and compete for one of the top five winning spots. Those five will win $100,000 in Samsung technology and classroom materials, and earn a trip to Washington, D.C., for a presentation to a congressional panel. In addition to helping the students navigate the Samsung challenge, Teevan teaches Project Lead the Way courses in biomedical science and biomedical innovations - a career track that all three seniors have been a part of since entering high school. Through the process of elimination and the requirement to participate in a senior internship, students graduating from the biomedical science program gain real-life experiences, and begin to focus their career paths before college. As part of their coursework, Center Grove biomedical science students participate in observational internships in the medical field. Teevan says these opportunities wouldn’t be possible without the partnership of community leaders and decision-makers at hospitals and medical offices on the south side, including Community Hospital South, Franciscan Health Indianapolis and several others. Students like Katelyn Jansen, who hopes to major in biomedical engineering in college, set out on a two-month internship that puts the students on a rotation. Since she hasn’t decided on a specific medical career
path, Janson hopes to get the most out of her time at Community Hospital South. “I’d really enjoy doing oncology, pediatrics or emergency medicine,” Jansen says. The biomedical courses complement what students are learning in other classes, and offer the ability to put those skills to the test. In addition to the internships, seniors are tasked with a final project that relates to their desired medical focus. Jansen says she’s developing a mobile application that would provide exercise programs that target specific areas of the body. The idea behind the application is to give people a platform full of tutorials, tips and workouts. Additionally, Nair, Hammill and Agrawal are working on their own independent senior projects. Agrawal says she plans to utilize the insulation concept to develop a blanket. Nair is toying with the idea of creating semidissolvable bandages that contain agents vital to the healing process. Hammill is focusing on designing a walking boot that would make ankle injury recovery safer for the entire body. With so many options and so many medical solutions still to be discovered, Project Lead the Way courses are giving students access to community leaders and resources to jumpstart their career paths. With the addition of the Samsung challenge, Teevan and her seniors have elevated Center Grove to the national stage with the hopes of solving a real-life problem that’s impacting those right in their own backyard. For more info on Project Lead the Way, visit pltw.org.
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Savoring Success Jason Crouch Wins Chef of the Year Award From the American Culinary Federation’s Indy Chapter Writer / Seth Johnson Photography Provided
As a child, Jason Crouch was introduced to quality cuisine. “My parents grew most of the fruits and vegetables that we ate, and we cooked everything at home,” Crouch says. “So I’ve had a passion from a young age for good, scratch-made food.” Crouch, a Center Grove resident, is using this same approach as executive chef for Embassy Suites by Hilton in Noblesville, including the facility’s in-house restaurant, The Local Kitchen and Tap. The hotel has space to offer plated meals for up to 1,000 people, with Crouch relying on his dedicated staff to make sure the food is prepared to perfection. Originally from Jay County, Crouch decided to pursue a job in the culinary
industry as a teenager. “Before I graduated high school I knew I was going to go to culinary school, so I used my college visitation days to come down to Indianapolis and do job interviews,” Crouch says. “I started two jobs down here in Indy before I graduated high school, and paid for culinary school that way.” Crouch gained useful experience while attending culinary school at Ivy Tech. “I traveled abroad with Ivy Tech in France and studied at the Paul Bocuse Institute in France for a couple weeks,” Crouch says. “Since then, I’ve worked all over in the industry.” Over the years, Crouch has worked in just about every type of culinary environment, from diners to large-scale facilities. Prior to his job at Embassy Suites in Noblesville,
he worked at Mesh restaurant in Indy. “Moving around so much in the industry, I’ve learned from so many different chefs,” Crouch says. “Now, I feel like I’m just a melting pot of all of them. I know something about the entire industry.” Crouch learned a bit about the hotel industry in college while working as a valet and bell captain at the Marriott hotel in downtown Indy. “I really enjoyed the hotel industry - it was such a family,” Crouch says. “Everyone in the hotel knew everybody. We were all one family, and I really missed that atmosphere.” Crouch was drawn back to the hotel atmosphere when a long-time colleague offered him a job at Embassy Suites in Noblesville, where he now serves as executive chef for The Local Kitchen and Tap.
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“Anywhere I’ve been, I’ve tried to utilize local, and I’ve truly tried to stand by that with the name of this restaurant,” Crouch says. “Partnering with local farmers and the kind of people I grew up around is important to me.” Crouch also endeavors to employ the chefs of tomorrow, offering real-world experience to young, aspiring culinary students from Ivy Tech and J. Everett Light Career Center. “My entire prep team is 21 or under - most of them I get straight out of high school,” Crouch says. “I mentor those students, give them a job and show them what the real world is like. And when they get done here, they can go apply for a job anywhere because they have restaurant experience, banquet experience and scratch-cooking experience.” Given his mentoring mentality with culinary expertise, it’s no wonder Crouch’s colleagues with the Indianapolis chapter of the American Culinary Federation awarded him Chef of the Year honors in March. “My colleagues and professors who taught me voted for me, and they thought I was deserving of it,” Crouch says. “That’s what really means a lot to me.”
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works alongside board director and business networking specialist Noah Barrow as well as outreach ministries coordinator Jack Williams. Together, the three men volunteer their time to collect, sort and distribute shoes to those in need.
Local Organization is Making a Difference in Indy & Beyond Writer / Jennifer Brugh Photography Provided
“I love being involved and giving back because I know how lucky I am to have the things that I’ve had,” Splichal says. “It’s all about giving back to the community when you feel fortunate for the things you have.”
And giving back is what Changing Footprints is all about. According to Williams, collecting shoes is just the tool the staff uses to get out Since 2005, the leaders of Changing into the community and into the right places Footprints have been taking in local around the city. In fact, the south Indy location donations to make a global change. What started out as a simple shoe collection project has collected everything from coats and clothing to household items and food. in Rushville, Indiana, has now grown into five collection and sorting facilities across the “This stuff just comes into us,” Williams says. state, including a location in Greenwood. “We never know what we’re going to get.” Founded by Maureen Leisure and Bob Broughton of Rushville, Changing Footprints Changing Footprints partners with other local organizations to host giveaways to pay has used more than 600 volunteers to it forward. Partners like the Indianapolis distribute over 400,000 pairs of new or Metropolitan Police Department, Gleaners gently used shoes over the last 15 years. The Food Bank of Indiana, the Salvation Army, organization distributed 80,000 pairs of shoes in 2019. While a majority of the shoes Wheeler Mission, Orangetheory Fitness, and stayed local, others went around the country Coburn Place have all been vessels for shoe distribution or collection, and the south Indy and the world including Ghana, Haiti, Iraq, team hopes the partnerships and the giving Afghanistan, Kenya and Nepal. will continue to grow. In Greenwood, Scott Splichal serves as the “The need has always been there, but the need Changing Footprints manager and team didn’t know we existed,” Splichal says. “We leader for southside Indianapolis, and he
didn’t know what the need was, but now that we’re coming closer together, this thing is just snowballing.” The growth is encouraging but comes with new challenges. In August of 2019 the south Indy team found a temporary sorting facility, but is now in need of more space, funding, and volunteers that are willing to collect shoe bins, sort and clean shoes, and help run events. Barrow says he initially signed up to volunteer because it was something he could do with his kids. “Volunteering is one of the best things,” he says. “Whether you can volunteer for an hour a month or an hour a day, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is really motivated to help. It’s great. There’s nobody involved who doesn’t want to be here.” Changing Footprints accepts donations throughout the year, and hosts a variety of outreach events around the city. With a strong community and support system, every volunteer can make a difference one opportunity at a time, through one pair of shoes at a time. The Changing Footprints southside Indianapolis facility is located at 5602 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 113 (by appointment only). For more information, including a contact page, explore changingfootprints.org or email them at ChangingFootprints.SouthIndy@gmail.com.
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Students at Center Grove High School hope to change the lives of those around them in Johnson County and beyond.