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!

This year, the greenhouse and gardens of MVS’ Zorniger Environmental Laboratory have been feeding Dayton through the school’s partnership with South Community Behavioral Healthcare. As part of South Community’s “Shaping Up” program, South Community clients have been receiving monthly meal boxes containing nutritious, locally grown produce from MVS and other community partners. Past meal box recipes include Simply Roasted Vegetables, Keto Peach Cobbler, and Italian Sausage Bowls with Swiss Chard. Through preparing these healthy and organic meals, South Community’s “Shaping Up” participants practice basic kitchen skills, gain independence, and get an emotional boost. South Community social worker Kimberly Conley writes of the most recent meal kit: “These boxes not only provided a nourishing meal, they also lifted the spirits of some who have not been able to leave their home in months!” MVS is proud to partner with this remarkable community organization!

MVS student Olivia Marshall ‘22 participated in a selective BFA portfolio prep program at the Art Academy of Cincinnati this summer with the help of MVS art teacher and mentor Emily Trick. Olivia specializes in mixed media works that incorporate meticulously cut paper. View more of Olivia’s art on Instagram at @delightful_dove!

In order to make our in-person learning as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, MVS has partnered with Aerobiotix, an air treatment company headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, to install small and large-room UV light air disinfection units throughout the MVS campus. These devices, which are shown to mitigate COVID-19, will help clean the air in MVS classrooms and hallways. Every MVS classroom has an Aerobiotix machine, with 10 additional large units being placed in common spaces. Aerobiotix air disinfection units are also used at the Cleveland Clinic, NYU, Miami Valley Hospital, and other local surgical facilities. Dr. David Kirschman, the founder and CEO of Aerobiotix, is the father of two MVS students. 

Read more about MVS’ partnership with Aerobiotix in the Dayton Business Journal.

On August 14, Georgia Sosebee and Geovany Cardona-Jones, two MVS students with a passion for making a difference, hosted a virtual learning event called “Finding Our Voices: Black History, Racism, and Diversity.” The event was presented in partnership with Tonic Dayton.

Georgia is a seventh grader at MVS who loves soccer and basketball. This summer, she launched her own small business, Georgia’s Cakes and Bakes. Georgia is passionate about antiracist awareness and education, saying, “This history is my history, and I want kids to learn more about it too.” She is the daughter of Mike Sosebee ‘98 and Jessica Sosebee.

Geovany is a fourth grader at MVS and is also the CEO of 1Love LLC, a community nonprofit that he manages with his family. Geo, the son of an immigrant father and Black mother, says he has witnessed racism firsthand and thinks kids should be able to talk and learn about this topic in more depth. He is the son of Alan Cardona and Myla Cardona-Jones.

We’re proud that these MVS students are working to be the change they want to see in the world!

One of the hallmarks of an MVS education is the close mentorship students have with our faculty. These relationships are evident during the academic awards, a year-end celebration where teachers recognize upper school students who have gone above and beyond in academics, athletics, community service, citizenship and other categories. On Wednesday, May 20, we awarded these distinguished honors to over 40 students.

34th Annual Academic & Athletic Awards Winners

What a year it has been for our seniors! Despite all of the major changes this spring has brought, our 44 seniors have persevered and exemplified our four core values: integrity, celebration, grit, and kindness. They have cheered each other on, lifted each other up, and have accomplished amazing things, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Dr. Blair Munhofen, Director of Upper School, reflects on this year’s senior class: “Think about all that you have done in high school: you’ve traveled the world, conducted a number of originally- designed research studies, and you’ve presented countless times. Indeed, ALL of you are interesting people. You are so ready for this next adventure. Your next academic homes will benefit greatly from your wealth of experiences and spirited engagement in the life of your colleges. Be confident knowing you bring so much, and be bold in sharing your talents with your new community. And, don’t forget to tell us about all of your new experiences!”

We celebrate you, MVS Class of 2020. Wherever life takes you, we know that you will do great things!

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