The Miami Valley School is pleased to welcome Stephanie Yenn as its new Associate Director of Alumni & Community Relations. Stephanie comes to MVS from WDPR Discover Classical, where she served as Director of Development. She has also previously worked at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and volunteered with a variety of local organizations, including the American Cancer Society, where she helped to establish Relay 4 Life in Centerville and Oakwood. Stephanie writes, “I’ve long been impressed by The Miami Valley School and the role it plays in the Dayton region, and I’m excited to build relationships in the MVS community!”

The Miami Valley School is proud to announce that it has partnered with Dayton Regional Green to become a Green-Certified Business in the Dayton area. MVS will also participate in DRG’s “Bring Your Green” Initiative, which encourages individuals and organizations to promote environmental sustainability by completing a variety of challenges. By completing challenges, participants earn points as well as potential prizes for themselves or their group. By creating a Bring Your Green account and registering as part of The Miami Valley School, community members can help The Miami Valley School advance on the leaderboard among other green-certified businesses while also greening their own living practices.

Instructions for signing up as a Bring Your Green participant are linked here. We hope you will join us as we continue to promote environmental sustainability on the MVS campus!

The Miami Valley School’s Homecoming will take place on October 2, 2021, with a full day of events!

8:30 AM: Coleman Lynn Wright Fun Run

9:00 AM: Run for the Rams 5K (Register Here!)

11:00 AM: Girls Varsity Soccer

12:30 PM: Senior Athlete Recognition

1:00 PM: Boys Varsity Soccer

Don’t forget to buy your MVS Homecoming Shirt!



Photo: Amelia Campbell ’23 and MVS JustWrite coach Dr. Nicolas Potkalitsky.

Amelia Campbell ’23, a sophomore at The Miami Valley School, won the State Award for Excellence in Poetry at the JustWrite Ohio State Competition. Campbell was one of twelve poets from Ohio selected to submit to the state competition after winning top honors at the February JustWrite Regional Tournament. The award was presented by Ohio’s 2020 Poet Laureate, Kari Gunter-Seymour. 

“Poems rarely rise to this elevation,” said Gunter-Seymour when describing Campbell’s piece, “The Lost Freedom in Bias.” “I cannot give the poet enough praise for the courage it takes to write a poem of this nature, and the creativity in putting it all together in an absolutely perfect format.” 

In addition to the Excellence in Poetry Award, Campbell also claimed eighth place in the Division II JustWrite Creative Writing State Competition, which challenges young writers to create original works of fiction based on a prompt in a time limit of 40 minutes for each story.

“Amelia has done an incredible job developing her writing throughout this year,” said Dr. Nicolas Potkalitsky, an English teacher at The Miami Valley School and the coach of the MVS JustWrite team. “It is such a privilege to bear witness to her talent.”

On April 24-25, the MVS upper school quiz bowl team competed in the Small School National Championship Tournament (Open Division), organized by National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT). The MVS team was comprised of William Groger ’21, Lakshmi Jain ’22, Andrew Holzinger ’23, and Arshaan Kahlon ’24. Fifty teams from 22 different states qualified for and attended the tournament, which was held entirely online. Teams in the Open Division are selective, non-“traditional public” schools with 350 or fewer students in grades 10-12.

On Saturday, MVS tallied a 9-0 record in its prelim games, qualifying for Sunday’s double-elimination playoffs as the #3 seed in the 32-team playoff bracket. In the playoffs, MVS defeated Merrol Hyde Magnet School (Tennessee) and Monrovian Academy A (Pennsylvania) before a loss to second-seeded TAG Magnet (Texas) sent them to the losers’ bracket. From there, MVS bounced back with wins over Bishop Ludden (New York) and BASIS McLean (Virginia) to reach the tournament Final Four and set up a rematch with TAG. MVS leapt out to an early lead and didn’t look back, pulling out a 420-315 win and clinching a spot in the tournament finals, where top-seeded St. Mark’s School of Texas A awaited with an undefeated record. In a thrilling back-and-forth match, MVS fell 295-385, taking home the second place trophy. Senior captain William Groger ’21 was the overall leading scorer for the tournament with 147.22 points per game, which earned him the tournament’s #1 All-Star award.

“This MVS team showed amazing enthusiasm and tenacity all weekend and really rose to the challenge of playing for a national championship,” said coach Tyler Benedict ’09. “In the Small School National Championship Open Division, we have the opportunity to compete against other schools like MVS, the nation’s best small charter, magnet, and private schools, with programs like TAG and St. Mark’s who are both ranked in the national Top 15 for quiz bowl regardless of school size. I’m so proud of how our team represented MVS and Dayton, Ohio, on a national stage.”

MVS’ quiz bowl team is currently #49 in the country in the all-school national rankings. They will next compete at the Ohio Academic Competition State Championship on May 1.

MVS alum Kristen Ahner ’18 has earned a Brooke Owens Fellowship, which supports exceptional undergraduate women and other gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network. Ahner, who is currently a junior at Princeton University studying Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, will work at The Boeing Company in El Segundo, California. She is one of only 44 talented students recognized as a Brooke Owens Fellow.

The Fellowship committee writes: “The 2021 Brooke Owens Fellows were selected from the Fellowship’s most competitive application year. More than 800 promising and talented students applied from Ivy League universities, major research universities, historically Black colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and major international universities. Forty-four Fellows were selected through a competitive application process involving written and creative submissions, interviews with the Fellowship’s volunteer-based leadership team and its close network, and interviews with the host companies. The selected Fellows have demonstrated their desire to pursue a career in aerospace, a record of leadership, a commitment to their communities, and their inexhaustible creativity.”

The Brooke Owens Fellows will be matched to an executive-level mentor committed to helping the Fellows launch their careers. This summer, the Fellows will start their internships and come together virtually for the annual Brooke Owens Summit. The Brooke Owens Fellowship honors the memory of beloved industry pioneer and accomplished pilot D. Brooke Owens, who passed away in June 2016 at the age of 35, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

MVS congratulates Kristen on her amazing achievement and wishes her luck in her internship this summer!

In January 2014, The Miami Valley School began a relationship with Project Okurase, an NGO in Ghana, as part of the MVS Ghana Immersion. Project Okurase, whose mission is to empower rural communities in Ghana, is run from Okurase Village in Ghana as well as Charleston, South Carolina. MVS’ relationship with Project Okurase has grown since that first Immersion trip, and Project Okurase has also been instrumental in the Freshman Immersion program, organizing and delivering an impactful course of study based on the history of enslaved Africans being brought to the United States and the residual impacts of American slavery.
Anne Griffith, MVS Director of Environmental Sustainability and Immersion Committee Chair, writes, “Cynthia Cupit Swenson, Ph.D., is a cofounder of Project Okurase and a professor of psychology at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Swenson has been MVS’ primary connection in planning the Ghana and Freshman Immersions. Over the years, MVS has taken three groups to Okurase Village, doing service each time we’ve gone. The second trip, in January 2017, involved the students installing a quarter-acre organic garden on the grounds of a school in the village. We literally worked from nothing to having a quarter acre of raised beds, filled with soil and compost, fenced, labeled and ready to receive the seedlings that would grow from our plantings. When we returned three years later in January 2020, the garden was thriving and area farmers had been trained in organic agricultural practice. While we were there, we got news that they had officially organized into a government recognized organization of organic farmers. This has all been part of a now-published study about rural Ghanaian villages shifting from chemically based agriculture to organic agriculture that was co-authored by Dr. Swenson. This published study all started with MVS working with MUSC staff and Project Okurase to get that first beautiful garden going as a model for what is possible in these communities.”
The study’s co-authors also include Kinnera Vallabhaneni ’16, an MVS alumna who co-founded the Project Okurase club chapter at MVS and went on to return to Ghana to volunteer with World Health Outreach and work as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research at the University of Ghana. Kinnera has also served as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Global Poverty Research Lab at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Kinnera recently graduated from Northwestern with a degree in Economics and a concentration in Business Institutions.
The organic farming study in Okurase was published by the journal Organic Agriculture. The abstract, references, and acknowlegments are viewable here (scroll down to find MVS!).
MVS is proud to have played a role in this international study and congratulates the students of Ghana Immersion and Freshman Immersion for their exemplary demonstration of compassionate global citizenship!

Lower school Mandarin students worked with MVS’ partner school in China to collaborate in project-based learning for the Mid-Autumn “Moon” Festival. This activity helped both MVS students and students in China learn a second language and participate in cultural exchange.

The students met each other in multiple Zoom meetings. In breakout rooms, students used their second language to introduce themselves, talk about their understanding of the Moon Festival, and ask a question about the Moon Festival. After discussions, all students reflected on what was challenging, what was fun, and how they could overcome language challenges.

Lower school Mandarin teacher Esther Seday wrote, “This collaboration helped enhance the students’ learning. Many students feel shy about communicating with others without using their mother language. However, these children were so happy that the languages they are learning can apply to real-life situations. They love to have friends from another country, and they are looking forward to seeing each other again.”

Congratulations to MVS alum Nola Timmins ’20 and MVS teacher Jon Graetz! Nola recently earned a highly selective Lighthouse Guild scholarship, writing her application essay about her work with upper school math teacher Jon Graetz. Not only did Nola’s application land her a scholarship, but her description of Mr. Graetz’s class also resulted in him winning the Lighthouse Guild Teacher Recognition Award, a singular honor!

Lighthouse Guild is the leading not-for-profit healthcare organization dedicated to addressing and preventing vision loss through coordinated vision and health services. Their annual scholarship is awarded to college-bound seniors who are legally blind.

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