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WINTER 2012-13

Chicago Jesuit Academy

The Journey Ahead Winter Newsletter

Ms. Bernina Sykes and her college-bound son, Donzell, CJA Class of 2009, Loyola Academy Class of 2013.


Chicago Jesuit Academy is a full-scholarship, college preparatory, Jesuit, Roman Catholic middle

school for young men from modest economic backgrounds. The Academy is distinguished by small classes, an extended academic day and a longer school year to prepare students for success in college prep high schools, universities and positions of community leadership. Chicago Jesuit Academy helps students develop as young men who are open to growth, religious, intellectually competent, loving and committed to doing justice in the service of others, in accord with the Jesuit mission and tradition. The school’s success in its mission is made possible by the disciplined sacrifices of our students, parents, faculty, staff, volunteers and benefactors.

2012-2013 FACULTY & STAFF

Matthew Lynch, President Washington University M.B.A., Georgetown University B.A. Thomas Beckley, Principal Loyola University Chicago M.Ed., Columbia University B.A. Catherine Cassidy, Vice President of Operations & Development Northwestern University M.B.A., University of Illinois B.A. David Diehl, Dean of Students Northwestern University M.Ed., Villanova University B.S. Brian Farmer, Dean of Fifth Grade and Faculty Member Northwestern University M.Ed., University of Michigan J.D., University of Notre Dame B.B.A. Jenna Heitchue, Dean of Academics and Faculty Member Michigan State University B.A., Secondary B.S. Matt Houlihan, Dean of Programs and Faculty Member University of Notre Dame M.Ed., B.A. Anne Roney, Dean of Sixth Grade and Faculty Member Boston College B.A. Marques Carroll, Music & Jazz Band Director DePaul University B.A. Clara Chu, Volunteer Coordinator & Assistant Director of Development Northwestern University M.Ed., Santa Clara University B.A. Emma Driscoll, Faculty Member Arizona State University M.Ed., University of Notre Dame B.A. Matthew Durkin, Faculty Member University of Notre Dame B.A. Christopher Dwyer, Director of Facilities & Information Technology Macalester College B.A. Sarah Finch, Director of College-Persistence Programs University of Notre Dame M.Ed., B.A., Loyola University Chicago (J.D. Candidate)

Board of Directors Mr. Matthew J. Botica, Chair Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP

Mr. Kevin J. Conway

Partner, Cooney & Conway

Mr. L. Adam DeLeon, S.J. Theological Studies

Mrs. Catherine Denny Civic Leader

Mr. Michael Dwyer

Senior Vice President, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, Private Banking Investment Group

Mr. Paul C. Gearen

President, Nicolson Porter & List Inc.

Mr. Darrell W. Hill

Corporate Finance Marketing Director, William Blair & Company

Mrs. Lindy Keiser

Recruitment Coordinator, Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

Mr. William G. Kistner

Vice President, Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Mrs. JoAnn Kunkel


Mr. John Lahey

Chairman, Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates Inc.

Raynesia Fleming, Social Worker

University of Illinois M.S.W., Western Illinois University B.S.

Pam Gilmour, School Nurse

Florida Atlantic University R.N., B.C. Pediatrics, Bowling Green State University C.M.A. Terese Hagerty, Faculty Member University of Notre Dame M.Ed., Marquette University B.S. Sean Kane, Faculty Member Northwestern University M.Ed., Boston College B.A. Jay Kemper, Program Coordinator for College Persistence University of Dayton B.A. Caleen Kennedy, Social Worker Intern Marquette University B.A. Luis Merida, Faculty Member Gonzaga University B.A. Katie McDonnell, Faculty Member University of Notre Dame M.Ed, B.A. Megan O’Brien, Bookkeeper Indiana University B.S. Maria Lefkow Sorensen, Development Associate and Special Events Coordinator Tulane University B.A. Bernina Sykes, Administrative Assistant Benedictine University B.A. Tom Van Grinsven, Development Associate for Communications and Facilities Assistant College of the Holy Cross B.A. Jessie Walsh, Program Coordinator for College Persistence University of Illinois M.S.W., Indiana University B.A. Dave Wilson, Chief Financial Officer DePaul University M.B.A., Elmhurst College B.A.

Mr. Brian C. Lewis

Assistant United States Attorney

Mr. Matthew Lynch

President, Chicago Jesuit Academy

Rev. Richard H. McGurn, S.J.

A Letter from the


A.M.D.G. Winter 2013 Dear Friends, Since CJA’s founding, Robert Frost’s classic poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” has helped me better understand our shared work at Chicago Jesuit Academy. The last lines read: The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. The poem speaks beautifully of the grandeur of God present in everyday things. Frost invites us to pause and pay attention. For me, Frost’s poem also speaks powerfully to the yoke that God sets upon each of our shoulders – our duties, our obligations, the vocations to which we are called. In the eight years that we have worked to care for our students, we have been reminded time and again of the sacred trust that our students’ parents place in us. I am both proud of and grateful for our board, our faculty and staff, our volunteers and our friends who have worked tirelessly and given generously to honor that sacred trust. We promised our first students that we would help them find their way to college if they worked hard and believed in their great potential. This year, those first promises have been kept. In December and January, our oldest graduates began receiving their first acceptance letters from Bradley, DePauw, Drake, Marquette, St. Louis University, Spring Hill and many other colleges. And yet the final lines of Frost’s poem challenge us. We have miles to go before we sleep. This summer, we will complete a major renovation of our campus. This fall as our first graduates begin college, we will enroll 50% more students in our incoming fifth-grade class – our first step toward doubling our enrollment. We are also launching an innovative summer college-persistence program that will help our students and other students from under-resourced elementary schools throughout the West Side better prepare for the rigors of college prep high schools and universities. Our hope is Resurrection Campus will become an educational hub for the West Side.

Spiritual Director, Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House

Your commitment to our mission has made it possible for us to plan such growth. Please know that we remain grateful for your generosity and your dedication to our students and alumni.

Teacher, St. Xavier High School

Thank you once again for believing in the promise of our students and alumni.

Managing Partner, Wolf Point Growth Partners LLC

In gratitude,

Rev. Rick Millbourn, S.J. Mr. Michael Miller Mr. Robert Otter

Principal, Robert E. Otter

Mr. Christopher Peterson

Mutual Fund Analyst, Harris Associates L.P.

Mr. Tom Reynolds

Financial Analyst, Perkins Investment Management

Ms. Carol Smith

Executive Director, The Gies Foundation

Dr. Lauren Smith, MD

Attending Physician, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County Assistant Professor, Rush Medical College

Janet Underwood

Academic Consultant, Chicago Jesuit Academy

Matthew Lynch President P.S. As we grow, we continue to seek out great people who are interested in joining our team as members of our faculty and staff. Please visit our website to see our latest job opportunities.

2013 Top Events At CJA

Alumni Spotlight: Donzell - Class of 2009 “I’m going to college!!!!”

African-American Heritage Celebration February 21st, 5:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M. Christ the King Jesuit College Prep Gym Our annual celebration of Black History month will include spoken word and musical performances by our talented young men.

Pi Day (3.14159...) March 14th, 1:59 P.M. CJA

Donzell’s email read short and to the point, as if he had feverishly typed it in a moment of excitment. The attachment was a letter containing over 300 hundred words, only three of which truly mattered:

Our annual Pi Day competition will measure how many digits of the never-ending number our young men can learn. Last year’s victor, Calyle, memorized 301 digits!

“Dear Donzell – Congratulations!”

*** In the summer of 2005, Donzell joined a group of 10-yearolds lined up outside the doors of the classrooms at Marillac to begin his education at Chicago Jesuit Academy. As he entered each classroom, young teachers greeted him warmly at the door with a firm handshake. It was nothing like his neighborhood public elementary school where he had regularly been in classrooms of at least 30 students. At CJA, Donzell and his classmates were in classes of fewer than 12 students, and it took time to fully transition:

Class of 2009 Begins College August/September Our first graduating class will begin the next step in their journey as they enroll in colleges and universities with the support of our CollegePersistence Programs.

Class of 2013 Graduation June 7th, 6:00 P.M. St. Ignatius College Prep

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony October 17th, 9 A.M.-11 A.M. CJA Thanks to the dedicated support of our benefactors and the excellent work of SCB and Walsh Construction, the expansion and renovation of our south wing will conclude with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The construction will double the enrollment capacity of the school, allowing CJA to serve 200 students when the required number of scholarships are secured.

Thousands of high school seniors around the country receive this letter. For many, college has been an inevitability – a foregone conclusion. For Donzell and the other young men in Chicago Jesuit Academy’s Class of 2009, this moment has defied statistics and expectations. The moment was born over seven years ago in three rented classrooms at Marillac Social Center. To get to this point required courageous parents, unwavering teachers, generous benefactors, and great hope and belief in the promise of young men on the West Side of Chicago. Ultimately, it required the love and hard work of many.

The Class of 2013 will be our fifth graduating class. They will enter rigorous college prep high schools with the support of our CollegePersistence Programs.

2013 Give-A-Little Gala! November 9th Chicago Illuminating Company At the 2012 Gala, thanks to the generosity of over 500 friends and supporters of CJA, we raised a record amount of money and funded six scholarships for our deserving young men. Please help us do even more in 2013.

CJA Higher Achievement Program Begins June 24th CJA Our summer Higher Achievement Program (HAP) is a critical part of our 11-month school year. The program focuses on reading and mathematics to help prepare our young men for success at CJA, college prep high schools and beyond.

I had trouble getting used to it. I wasn’t used to coming in the morning, shaking the teacher’s hand and tucking my shirt in. One thing I’ll always remember is that you could always go to the teachers and talk to them. They were willing to talk to you about anything even as fifth and sixth graders. The teachers were always there. I remember teachers pulling me out of class telling me, “You have so much to offer.” One time, I wasn’t doing well in my Social Studies class and I had to retake a test. When my teacher put the test down on my desk, at the top it said, “I refuse to let you fail this.” There aren’t too many teachers who would do that. I always felt like there was someone there to push me but also to comfort me in those tough times.

“He didn’t teach us only about math; he taught us about values as well.”

In 2007, CJA moved from Marillac to our current location in a renovated building that formerly housed Resurrection Grade School and St. Martin de Porres School. The two classes of young men now attending CJA were joined by a third, the Class of 2011. The setting had changed, but for Donzell and our other students, the story remained the same. Every teacher cared for the whole student, based on the foundational Jesuit idea of cura personalis. Two teachers in particular stood out to Donzell – current CJA Principal, Mr. Tom Beckley, and Dean of Students and math teacher, Mr. Dave Diehl:

The fact that they’re so strict but they are willing to do so much made them my favorites. I never meet people like that. Mr. Beckley is always on you constantly. He’s a hard guy but when you do something well he’s truly happy. He gives you that genuine feeling. Mr. Diehl taught us so much more than what you would learn on your own. He taught us to be humble and appreciative. There’s so much I learned from Mr. Diehl about how to act in the real world and how to act towards people. He didn’t teach us only about math; he taught us about values as well.

Alumni Spotlight In June of 2009, Donzell and his classmates became the first graduates of CJA and moved on to rigorous high schools such as Loyola Academy, Culver Academy in Indiana and the Thacher School in California. They had taken the next step in their journey, but their connection to CJA remained strong. Donzell returned during the summers to participate in CJA’s summer jobs program – a program that has evolved to offer college-readiness training, ACT prep and academic support. As his senior year at Loyola Academy began in the fall of 2012, Donzell discovered a way to reach young men at CJA through a gift of his own. He began working with CJA’s 8th-grade basketball team as an assistant coach, attending games on the weekends and supporting Coach Dwyer throughout the season: It’s been a lot of fun. The kids refer to me as Coach P. When they say that I’m like, “Wow, I’m not that much older than you.” I didn’t realize that I could be a role model until my little brother Malik came to me and told me that he was talking about me to other people. Once that started happening, I started to feel like I’m a role model for him and if I’m a role model for him then I must be a role model at CJA, having been a part of the first graduating class. Even with basketball, 7th-graders come up to me asking for help. I never thought I could be that type of person. I never felt like I could have that much impact on anyone. ***

“I would like for him to think and perform as a young man.”

Ms. Sykes, Donzell’s CJA application (2005)

Every parent or guardian must fill out an application for admission to CJA before their child’s 5th-grade year. When asked on the 2005 application what she hoped for her son, Donzell’s mother, Ms. Bernina Sykes, wrote, “I would like for him to think and perform as a young man.” In 2007, when Donzell was starting 7th grade, Ms. Sykes joined the CJA staff as our Administrative Assistant. Today she remains a crucial part of our community and has added responsibilities as our Parent Outreach Coordinator. As Donzell entered his freshman year in high school, Ms. Sykes returned to school and earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Benedictine University. Next spring, Donzell will follow in his mother’s footsteps to college and make her hopes for him a reality. For Donzell and the Class of 2009, their journey has been our journey. From the first day of school at CJA in 2005 to high school graduation in May of this year, we have walked their path together. That path has not been linear, nor has it been easy. And yet, our young men now have what too many others on the West Side of Chicago do not: opportunity and hope. They’re going to college.

Affecting Change on the West Side


Board Member Reflection

By Mr. Darrell Hill

s the Chicago Jesuit Academy community looks ahead to our first alumni graduating from high school and entering college, I want to share my reflections on the road we have trod these past eight years and the journey that lies ahead of us.


More than ninety-seven percent of young men on the West Side of Chicago never earn a four-year college degree. For all who participate daily in our increasingly global and interconnected economy, this statistic should be especially alarming. How can a community thrive and sustain itself without giving any of its young men the tools and benefits of a college education?

Seven Years in Four

Despite this overwhelming probability, CJA has made great strides in the past eight years. On average, incoming fifth graders test at a mid-third-grade level. As the young men graduate eighth grade, they test at a mid-tenth-grade level or higher. In four years, the curriculum, the longer school day, the longer school year, the suite of social services available at CJA, and the sheer dedication of the faculty and staff have enabled our students to progress through seven years of grade-level testing ability. Graduates from CJA have been accepted to and are succeeding in the nation’s highest-rated high schools: Loyola Academy, St Ignatius College Prep, and Walter Payton College Prep locally, and Culver Academy, Episcopal High School, and The Thacher School, nationally. Clearly, the educational model and required investment at CJA are making an impact on the accomplishments of our young men.

Eighth Is Not Enough

Eighth-grade graduates reading 2.5 years above grade level is an impressive accomplishment in any environment, even more so in the under-resourced Austin community. However, our mission does not end at eighth-grade graduation – the Austin community needs more than young men simply graduating from eighth grade. What we have learned at CJA is that students in lowincome communities need a full suite of services, both social and academic, to help them overcome the maladies that affect poor neighborhoods. By some experts’ measure,

it costs as much as $20,000 per student to counteract the negative impact of low-income, high-crime, highunemployment, and high-incarceration rates and equip a student to sit down, focus, and learn in a classroom.

Changing Trajectory

Our mission at CJA is to change the trajectory of our students’ lives. We have successfully accomplished part of this through their middle-school education experience. However, to chip away at the 97% figure, support for our graduates must extend through their high school and college years. Our investment in a robust and rigorous college-persistence program completes the opportunity that began in fifth grade for our graduates. Summer enrichment programs, internship opportunities, SAT/ACT test-prep sessions, financial aid workshops, and social service resources and counseling all support our alumni throughout their high school years and prepare them for success in college. Eighth-grade graduation and high school graduation are but stepping stones to the ultimate goal of young men graduating from college, young men empowered to pursue a livelihood, providing for their families, enjoying economic security, and changing the trajectory of their lives and of their community. In eight years, CJA has made tremendous strides in the lives of its students; however, our task is far from over and challenges lie ahead. My board colleagues and I are proud of the accomplishments of the young men at CJA; however, we recognize that further investment is needed to complete the promise we made to them – namely, that if they work hard, focus, and commit to the demands placed on them, they can change the trajectory of their lives in unimaginable ways. Mr. Darrell W. Hill is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, received his B.A. magna cum laude from Howard University and his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.


CHICAGO JESUIT ACADEMY Resurrection Campus 5058 West Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60644-4324 (773) 638-6103 (773) 638-6107

Student Demographics 2012-2013 The Statistics Say... Fewer than 3 in 100 AfricanAmerican or Latino young men earn college degrees by the age of 25 if educated in Chicago Public Schools.1 1.According to the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago school research (2006)

Where We Start...


of students identify as African-American.


of students live on Chicago’s West Side in the Austin, Garfield Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods.

•  On average, incoming fifth-grade students enroll at CJA testing at the mid-third-grade level in Reading and Mathematics.


Where We Go...


•  On average, our students make seven years of grade-level progress during their four years of study at CJA. •  Our alumni attend college prep high schools like Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius and Walter Payton in the Chicago area and Culver Academy, Episcopal High School and The Thacher School around the country.

Join the CJA Community!


of students live in a two-parent household.

of students identify as non-Catholic Christians. of students identify as Roman Catholics.

Chicago Jesuit Academy is always excited to have new partners join in our work. Send your e-mail to to be the first to hear about our students’ achievements and events to support the Academy! If you are interested in becoming a scholarship benefactor, please contact Ms. Catherine Cassidy, Vice President of Operations & Development at (773) 638-6123 or by e-mail at

2013 Winter Newsletter  

Chicago Jesuit Academy 2013 Winter Newsletter

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