The Intersection

[divider]PART ONE: THE SHOOTING [/divider]

The Friends

The day of Nov. 1, 2002, may have ended without bloodshed in New Albany, Ind., if the mail had come to Cynthia Bogard’s house at the usual time. It typically arrives between 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., but it ran early that day.

An unemployed bartender on disability, Bogard was in her narrow row house on Chartes Street, waiting for her welfare check. The mail arrived around 3:00 p.m., still early enough to cash it before the weekend. She called her friends Lisa and Donald Barnett and asked for a ride to the bank.

Lisa and Donald—everyone called him Ducky, a nickname his father gave him—were over at Bogard’s house earlier that day. Ducky brought $20 worth of crack with him, and the three friends sat and smoked it through a metal pipe, talking as the drug entered their bloodstream and triggered a flood of dopamine in their brains.

When Bogard called, they returned to the house in Ducky’s truck. It was a beat-up grey pickup with a power washer in the bed, a tool Ducky used in his own little pressure washing business. They reached Bogard’s house a little after 3:00 p.m.

 

The Lovers

Half a mile away, Steven Paul and his girlfriend, Noreen Cousins, woke up slowly that day. Neither of them had to work, so they lay in bed watching TV. They’d been dating for a year and a half and were living together at a friend’s house.

The son of an Indian doctor and a university professor, Paul grew up in New York and Florida. He was a part-time painter and was learning to blow glass while studying visual communications at Ivy Tech State College in nearby Sellersburg.

When they got out of bed, they took Paul’s pit bull for a walk, as they did every morning, and decided to drive up to Paul’s uncle’s farmhouse near Pekin, Ind. It was only 25 miles north of New Albany.

Paul liked it up there. He would let his dog run around, visit with his cousins and shoot his handgun at paper targets that went from black to green when they were hit.

At around 3:30 p.m., they got in Paul’s white Ford pickup. It was a nice day, but chilly, so Noreen pulled on a black hooded sweatshirt before they headed out the door. Paul grabbed the guns. He put a .40-caliber Taurus in the glove box for Noreen and tucked his .40-caliber Glock in the right cargo pocket of his pants, where he always kept it.

The gun had 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. It had no safety switch. They stopped at Ace Pawn and Loan for a box of 50 cartridges then drove two blocks north on State Street to a liquor store called Bottles Unlimited. They wanted to buy some beer to take with them into the country.

 

The Encounter

Lisa and Ducky drove Bogard to Marketboy Grocery to cash her check. Then they crossed the Ohio River into Louisville’s West End to buy more crack. Ducky knew the place. They bought three grams, which Lisa stuffed in her bra, and drove back over the Sherman Minton Bridge, a double-decker span from the 1960s that lifts I-64 over the Ohio River, connecting Kentucky and Indiana. The bridge was already filling with traffic. It was Friday afternoon, close to 4:00 p.m., and the weekend was beginning.

Ducky, Lisa and Bogard were planning a weekend of their own. They talked about throwing a little party back in New Albany, playing some cards and kicking back. Bogard suggested they stop at Bottles Unlimited to pick up some drinks. Ducky took the first exit off the bridge, crawled east through three blocks of traffic on Elm Street and pulled into the liquor store lot.

At the same time, Paul and Cousins turned into the lot from State Street. Pulling into facing parking spaces, the trucks almost collided. Paul got out of his vehicle and walked over to Ducky’s truck.

A 36-year-old former football player, Ducky was a big man, 85 pounds Paul’s senior. Paul grinned when he saw Ducky’s size.

“Okay, now you want to smile,” Ducky said. “What are you talking about, of course I’m smiling. You’re smiling, too. It’s a nice day out.”

“All right boy, go in the store then, go on,” Ducky said.

“You almost hit me.”

“Well, we didn’t.”

The exchange was brief and ended with the two shaking hands. Paul never went into Bottles Unlimited, deciding instead to go to a different liquor store up the road. He got back in his truck, pulled onto State Street and circled around the block to get back on Elm, a one-way.

Cousins saw the whole confrontation from inside the truck and began to simmer. She knew Ducky from the neighborhood. Their families knew each other. Ducky was a bully, she said. He smoked a lot of crack. Nothing but trouble.

By the time Paul circled the block to get back on Elm, the simmer had grown to a full boil. They were in the center lane when they approached Bottles Unlimited.

The light was red and traffic slowed to a stop, a dammed stream of idling engines that pooled all the way back to the interstate. As they sat there, waiting for the light to change, Cousins shifted in her seat, leaned halfway out the passenger side window and began shouting obscenities at Ducky who was still seated in his truck.

“You all ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of crack heads,” Cousins yelled.

“Your mammy’s a crack head,” Ducky shot back.

 

The Students

Several hours earlier, two 15-passenger vans left Xavier and headed south toward Louisville. They were full of students participating in a “rural plunge” experience organized by Ben Urmston, S.J., director of the Dorothy Day Center for Peace and Justice. The group was on its way to Tell City, Ind., where the students would spend a night on a hog farm, learning about small-scale agriculture. But first they were scheduled to hear a speaker in New Albany.

It was an unconnected group of students—a Nicaraguan exchange student, three Japanese graduate students, various others. Most of the students were on the trip to fulfill a requirement for their theology class. They were still learning each other’s names when they crossed the Sherman Minton Bridge from Louisville into Indiana and took the Elm Street exit. One van made it through the intersection before the light changed to red, but the second van became part of the growing pool of traffic and only crept toward State Street.

Anna Burdick, a 19-year-old public relations major, was absent-mindedly watching the cars. “I was looking out the window because we’d been driving so long and I was kind of bored,” Burdick later testified. “A car came up along the side of us … There was a woman hanging out of the window of the vehicle screaming. I assumed that she was screaming at us.”

The other passengers in the van turned to look. “She was saying the ‘F’ word a lot,” Rosie Gibson, an 18-year-old Montessori education major told the police.

“She was pretty steamed,” said David Dunn, a 19-year-old biology major.

The students realized she was shouting over the Xavier van, to someone sitting in a truck in the parking lot next to them. Ducky was returning the insults. It only took a few more words before Cousins threw open the truck door and stepped out onto the street.?Paul leaned over and grabbed a fistful of her black sweatshirt as she was leaving the truck. He was trying to hold on, but she slipped through his fingers. Cousins ran across the street, around the Xavier vehicle, to Ducky’s truck. The students’ eyes followed her from one side of the van to the other. “She was ready to fight,” said Dunn.

 

The Fight

Bogard had just walked out of Bottles Unlimited and set a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice on the hood of Ducky’s truck when she heard the yelling and saw Cousins running toward her. “She came up out of that truck so fast,” Bogard said. “Just charged toward the truck.”

Cousins started swinging while Ducky was still in his vehicle. Bogard remembers him looking bemused, with “a sort of grin on his face.” He stepped out of the truck and deflected the blows. Ducky was much larger than Cousins. Gibson remembers him saying something like, “What are you going to do?”

That’s when Paul got out of his truck. Walking through traffic, he pulled the Glock from his pocket and wandered into the peripheral vision of everyone who was focused on the fight.

Most of the witnesses thought he was coming to break it up. His right arm was straight against his body. In his hand was a ?black gun.

Lisa McCafferty Friel was just two years out from earning her biology degree from Xavier and interning with the Dorothy Day Center. She was chosen to drive the second of the two vans. “It was like I was watching a movie,” she says.

In the passenger seat, Tom Sheibley, the associate director of the Center, started shouting, “Get down, he’s got a gun!” But Friel lacked the instinct to duck. She had no concept the gun could hurt her. And she couldn’t take her eyes off it.

Neither could Gibson, watching from the window. “When I saw that he had a gun I was just watching him,” she says. She followed Paul’s arm as he leveled the weapon. “I was looking at his face when he pulled the trigger,” she says. “It looked kind of disturbingly calm. He was just looking straight ahead. I really didn’t see much emotion at all.”

The shot hit Ducky in the right side of his stomach, a copper jacketed bullet that tore through his intestine, pierced his inferior vena cava—the largest vein in the body—then severed his left iliac artery and another section of intestine before coming to a rest in the soft tissue on the other side of his body.

Vaughn Jantzen, a self-employed tree-trimmer, heard the shot from the Citibank parking lot across the street. He thought it was a firecracker or a car backfiring. He looked up and saw Ducky. “There was a black man, looked like he was scrambling to get out of the way of something,” Jantzen said.

The students were glued to the van window. “He doubled over in pain and kind of went like, ‘Ohh,’ ” Burdick says. “I could hear the agony.”

Ducky turned and started to run. Paul leveled again, firing a second shot into Ducky’s left shoulder. Ducky ran 96 feet, across an alley and through some bushes before he dropped to the pavement.

Paul and Cousins scrambled back to their truck and drove away.

Inside the van, Sheibley had the presence of mind to read the license plate aloud, repeating it so he wouldn’t forget. Unable to find a pen, one of the students punched the numbers into a cell phone.

After the second shot, Jantzen, the tree-trimmer, ran across the street. “Everybody started screaming and hollering,” he said. “There was a truck that was taking off and it was squealing tires.”

Friel sprung into action. She pulled the van off the road and ran toward Ducky. Trained in CPR since she was 12, she took off her sweatshirt and pressed it to Ducky’s wound, trying to stop the bleeding. “He was going into shock,” she says. “He was shaking.”?Bogard ran toward Ducky, too. She remembers him raising his head and trying to call his wife. “Lisa.”

 

The Aftermath

It was only seconds before the scene was flooded in lights and sirens.The liquor store was a block away from the police station. It was such a small town, Friel says, “You didn’t have to call the police, you just had to yell.”

As EMTs loaded Ducky into an ambulance and rushed him to Floyd Memorial Hospital, students wandered around the lot, some of them crying. When the ambulance left, police circled the scene in crime tape. They asked the Xavier students to look for the bullet casings. Friel had never shot a gun before, never even held one. She didn’t know what a casing looked like, but within a few minutes she had found a small metal cylinder on the asphalt. A detective marked and photographed it. It was such a small piece of metal.

Around the same time, a mile up State Street, Ducky Barnett, a husband, a son and the 36-year-old father of five, was pronounced dead. Six days later he would be lowered into the ground at West Haven Cemetery as his 13-year-old daughter, Joslin, sang “Amazing Grace.” ?His family had to pay the New Albany Tribune to print an obituary.

 

[divider]PART TWO: THE TRIAL [/divider]

The Outsiders

The police caught Paul almost immediately. An off-duty detective in the area heard the call come over the radio and intercepted Paul’s pickup at 13th and Elm. Paul turned into an alley, jumped out of the truck and leapt over an eight-foot privacy fence. The officer pursued on foot, and eventually Paul surrendered. He led the officer to his gun, which he had stashed in a trash bag. As his hands were cuffed, he said, “A big black guy was beating up my girlfriend, and I shot him.”

Hours after the shooting, Friel and the Xavier students were sitting in the police station, waiting to give recorded testimonies. Ducky’s wife was there, too, as were Paul and Cousins. “It was like sitting across a living room,” Friel says. The students felt out of place. “We were supposed to just be going to a farm on the Indiana countryside,” Sheibley says.

Looking around the room, Friel thought people must have been wondering, “ ‘Who are these guys in their big white van?’ It was ironic that we, the outsiders, were the firsthand witnesses.”

 

The Common Thread

Unlikely as it was, Xavier became a common thread throughout the incident. There was the vanload of witnesses. Then there was Paul’s defense attorney, Michael McDaniel, a local lawyer who graduated from Xavier in 1965. And the judge who tried the case, Floyd County Judge Terrence Cody, is a 1971 Xavier alum.

Paul’s trial began on March 30, 2004, two days after Xavier lost to Duke in the Musketeers’ first NCAA Elite Eight appearance. If Xavier had won the game, the trial may have been delayed because one of the student witnesses was traveling with the team in the pep band. Xavier had beaten Louisville two weeks earlier, much to the chagrin of one of the jury members, who was a former UofL player. McDaniel and Judge Cody ribbed him about it throughout the trial.

The Lawyers

McDaniel has practiced law in New Albany for 44 years. He has white hair, a toothbrush moustache and round, rosy cheeks. When he laughs, which is often, his eyes disappear into crinkles behind his glasses. His speech is deliberate, and he walks at a pace that’s appropriate for a town with 25 mph speed limits. He played fullback for the Xavier football team and still has a loose vertebrae on account of a hit he received during a punishing loss against the Quantico Marines. He wears a navy suit and drives a 16-year-old Blazer with no air ?conditioning. A carton of Doral Reds rides shotgun.

McDaniel’s courtroom opponent in the trial was state prosecutor Steve Owen, a slick attorney from Gary, Ind. Two jurors pulled McDaniel aside and said, “That boy ain’t from around here, is he?” Owen wore a gold chain on his left wrist and derided the local ?pronunciation of “voir dire” during the first day of jury selection. Later that day, Judge Cody took an opportunity to correct Owen’s pronunciation, when the prosecutor referred to the student witnesses who would be testifying in the trial.

MR. OWEN: They are all from (Eggs)avier University.?

THE COURT: Mr. Owen, it’s Xavier.

MR. OWEN: Xavier.?

MR. MCDANIEL: Thank you, Your Honor.

MR. OWEN: I’m sorry, Your Honor.

THE COURT: You’re offending me.

MR. OWEN: I know. Unintentionally. Xavier University.

Owen was an outsider in New Albany. “He did not resonate with the jury,” McDaniel says. “He has a different accent than we do here.” McDaniel, on the other hand, used familiar vernacular and a mellow Southern drawl. He even got the jury to laugh once or twice. (“You make a jury laugh in a murder case, and they don’t convict a murder.”)

 

The Defense

McDaniel was familiar with the individuals involved in the shooting at Bottles Unlimited. Years earlier, he represented Ducky’s father, a truck driver who was killed in crossfire between two people arguing over a $15 debt outside The Climax Café nightclub, in a case. He also represented the man who shot Ducky’s father. McDaniel had even been at the same liquor store, his favorite in New Albany, hours before the shooting. “This is a little town,” he says.

McDaniel’s defense strategy was simple. “I was trying to make Barnett an aggressive guy who grabbed the girlfriend and prompted Paul to step out and whack him.” The fact that Ducky, Lisa and Bogard had just been over in Louisville buying crack cocaine only helped his case. So did the local support for the right to protect oneself and one’s loved ones by whatever means necessary. “Around here, you almost need to be an evil person to be convicted of a murder,” McDaniel says.

McDaniel knew from the start that Paul was not that sort of person. “Steven was an odd duck,” he says. “His goal in life was to become a pro skateboarder. Better than having a job, I guess. Truth be known, he’s probably a spoiled brat. But I don’t think he’s a guy who will ever get into trouble again.”

But McDaniel’s personal opinions of his clients never interfere with his work as a defense attorney. They can’t. “If somebody isn’t out there forcing the state to present its case properly, then it’s easier to put people in jail,” he says. “Some of those people will be innocent.”

McDaniel argued the case well. At the end of the trial he put Paul on the stand to testify that Ducky was strangling and punching Cousins.

It didn’t matter that none of the other witnesses saw Ducky hit her and that every Xavier witness pointed to Cousins as the aggressor. On April 6, 2004, Paul’s 26th birthday, the all-white jury convicted Paul not of murder, but of aggravated battery.

“I don’t know if he realized what a deal he got,” McDaniel says. “He was never remorseful about shooting Ducky.”

 

The Intersection

Sheibley and four Xavier students came back to New Albany to testify in the trial. Gibson was one of them. She recalls a moment in the courthouse between testimonies when Ducky’s wife, Lisa, showed them pictures of Ducky with his children. It was the first time Gibsonsaw the victim as a man with a face, a smile and a family.

“It wasn’t until then that I’d thought of him as a person who’d lost his life,” she says.

Sheibley remembers the moment, too. “We were together in a room back there,” he says. “We got to spend a little time with the wife and the friend of the person who was killed. Our lives intersected in a way that they never would have.”

 

[divider]PART THREE: THE REFLECTION [/divider]

The Decision

Sheibley and Friel didn’t know exactly what to do. There’s no written protocol for what to do after witnessing a murder. No manual. “The last thing we expected to have happen was to witness what we did,” says Sheibley, who is now director of campus ministry for Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “We made a decision to go ahead and continue on with the rural plunge.”

In retrospect, he wonders if he should’ve given the students the option to turn back. “I hope that I would have at least given them a little bit of a chance to talk about it if they wanted to, to check in with everybody to make sure that they were doing okay.”

But everyone was processing the experience differently. Friel remembers some students crying with the same grief as Ducky’s wife, Lisa. Others, like herself, were still coming to terms with what they saw. “I’m a post-processor,” she says. “I deal with my feelings later. It’s not that I was numb, but I guess I just didn’t let myself be affected at the time.”

When the weekend was over and the group returned to Xavier, the students dispersed. They were an unconnected group. “I really didn’t see them again ’til the lawyers were involved,” Sheibley says. Nevertheless, he paid a visit to the McGrath Health and Wellness Center to speak with a counselor. He wanted to know what he could do for the students who witnessed the killing. It was only in telling this counselor about what they saw in New Albany that Sheibley realized how the experience affected him.

“I wasn’t even really noticing for myself that that was something that really bothered me,” he says. “It struck something down deep. That was really an awful thing, a really tragic thing to see.”

 

The Last Decade

Ten years later, the witnesses in the van look back on the shooting differently. One of the witnesses refused an interview request, saying it’s an experience she tries not to think about, much less talk about.

But for others, time has softened the trauma. As terrible as it was, Sheibley says he rarely thinks about it. “I can’t say that my life was dramatically changed,” he says. “I wish I had something really profound to say about it. I don’t know that I really do. It’s certainly an unforgettable event. It helps me to appreciate my life.”

In the months after the incident, Friel remembers feeling leery of groups of men on the street. That feeling has eased over the years, but she is raising her three children away from toy guns and video games, and she is sensitive to the way movies desensitize people to violence. Today Friel works with children with physical disabilities and is sometimes reminded of the shooting. She took care of one child from a rough neighborhood recently who tried to run away from home in his wheelchair after his brother was shot.

“I had the tiniest insight,” she says. “Not that I can identify with him, but if it impacted me to this degree, it has to have impacted him more. If anything, I was given it so I can have a bit more insight. Now it’s in my bag of experiences that I can pull out and say, yeah, I did experience that.”

Gibson (now Rosie Warburg) had trouble sleeping in the months after the shooting. “I would think about it all the time,” she says. “When I would lie down at night to go to sleep and close my eyes, I would see it play over and over and over again.”

Her most vivid flashback was that of Ducky’s wife, Lisa, standing outside the liquor store screaming. “She came out and saw him lying on the ground, in the bushes. She was clinging to us and crying, yelling, ‘Ducky, Ducky.’ I really felt for her. She had lost her husband.”

But now, Warburg says she feels a strange detachment from the experience. “It really doesn’t feel like something that I saw. It’s almost a story or something I saw in the news. I don’t know if it’s what your brain does to protect you against it, but it’s almost like it wasn’t even real, like we didn’t even see it.”

 

The Town

The shooting is not forgotten in New Albany. The case stands out for both Cody and McDaniel because it was a rare killing in broad daylight in their sleepy town. “It took place literally a block from the courthouse,” Cody says. “I’ll never forget that day or that trial.”

The pair had the chance to reminisce recently over a plate of pasta at La Bocca, an Italian restaurant two blocks from the liquor store. Cody is late, but that just gives McDaniel an excuse to smoke a cigarette outside. “A judge is never late,” he says between drags, “because you can’t start without him.”

When the judge arrives, they take a table. McDaniel orders an Absolut martini, up, one olive. It comes with three, but he doesn’t say anything. Cody gets a water. The two men are close, but their professional relationship hasn’t come without disagreement. McDaniel points to the 19-and-a-half-year sentence Cody dealt to Paul—the highest sentence for an aggravated battery conviction. Cody justified the sentence by saying Paul’s actions constituted the “ultimate battery”—death.

McDaniel protests the sentence. “I always believed you felt the guy got one hell of a break from the jury,” McDaniel says. “I did.”

“And it was an equitable sentencing. I understood that. I always thought we did okay with the jury.”

It’s a strained conversation, even now, even as well as they know each other. In the end, Paul served less than six years. He is now in California, working for a skateboarding company. McDaniel won his case. Cody wonders if justice was served.

 

The Final Word

The equality of justice was the foundation of prosecutor Owen’s closing argument, which was built upon the idea that justice should be afforded to everyone, even crack addicts in a liquor store parking lot. Preserving justice, he said, is a decision that people make every day­—people like the students, who just happened to be stuck in traffic at the unalterable moment when the lives of Paul and Ducky intersected.

“There were a lot of people sitting there at that stop light and across from it,” Owen told the jury. “Probably 50 cars, hundreds of people probably, that saw this incident or parts of it.” Most of them drove on, he said, and never stepped forward as witnesses. It was “just a small handful, the kids in a van, who saw an injustice and wanted to help … They went the extra mile not for their own selves or to try to save themselves, but because it was the right thing to do, to serve justice. Folks, you’re at a crossroad, right now. You’ve got a decision. You can either drive away, or you can be like those kids—stop and ensure that justice is done.”

Taking the Pulse of the American Dream

Here’s a challenge. How do you document a subject of national importance that people see all over the news, but rarely ever think about?

It’s a question Kat Ryder and her student interns are answering with the Permanent American Dream Video Archive, a project of the Center for the Study of the American Dream. The archive supplements the Center’s aggregate surveys and research by offering a glimpse of how individuals perceive the American Dream.

“We wanted to take a different view,” Ryder says. “We wanted to talk to people from all walks of life about how they see the American Dream.” The project began last August, and Ryder already sees it fulfilling its objective: to be “a memorial for lives lived and an inspiration for the next generation’s American Dream.”

The routine is simple and student-driven. Ryder’s student interns identify individuals who embody the American Dream in some way. Then they contact that person, explain the project and, if they’re willing, schedule an interview.

The students record the interviews, edit them and finally post the finished product on the project’s website. So far the students have interviewed CEOs, journalists, immigrants, entrepreneurs, musicians and more. The interviews have taken place on campus, around Cincinnati, in New York City and Las Vegas—and over Skype.

The result is an intimate series of portraits of America’s trademark concept.

“Having a video archive, you get to see the person,” Ryder says. “You get to feel the energy. It’s much more engaging than a written-out interview.” It also helps personalize what can be an abstract idea.

“The media talks about the American Dream every day,” Ryder says. “And I know. I get Google Alerts about it.” But people rarely consider how the concept relates to them. “You don’t really think about it,” she says. “You think it’s a corny subject that’s just in books. But when you realize that people here have the opportunity and freedom to go after their dreams, their passions, you start to really believe in the American Dream.”

The students are trying to document a broad range of individuals. Recent subjects have included the CEO of dunnhumbyUSA, a homeless woman who went to Harvard, the life coach at Zappos and a French business owner who found in America the keys to his success. Ryder says the goal of the archive is to gather as many voices as possible in what she hopes will become a searchable database.

“We want to know what real Americans think,” she says.

One of the archive’s interns is Kevin Tighe, a senior English major. His first interview was with an active-duty Marine named Brian Giera who was adopted from Korea as a baby. When Tighe talked to him, Giera had already served a tour in Afghanistan and was on his way to Europe.

Tighe chose him as a subject because he wanted to know how someone thought about the American Dream who is currently fighting for it. Tighe reached Giera via Skype at his base in Hawaii, shortly before he deployed to Europe. Tighe was impressed by the sense of duty in Giera’s perception of the American Dream.

“He kept emphasizing it’s what he is called to do, because he was given so much,” Tighe says.

Tighe has received positive responses from other interview subjects as well.

“People want to talk to students,” he says. “That’s why I really enjoy this project.”

And Tighe isn’t shy of asking high-profile people for interviews—people like Bob McDonald, the CEO of Procter and Gamble­—even though he knows they are more often than not going to decline the request.

“If I get a no, it’s a no, that’s the worst they can say. So why not? I’m really a shoot-for-the-moon, land-in-the-stars type of guy.”

If he could interview anyone in America though, it would be Bruce Springsteen.

“He’s like the embodiment of America,” he says. “I’d, like, faint if I found out I’d be talking to the Boss.”

Short of that, Tighe is happy to keep asking everyday Americans about their personal American Dream.

“Everyone knows someone that has a good American Dream story,” he says. “Even the smallest person can have the biggest dreams, and achieve them.”

That’s the idea this country was built upon.

Watch videos here.

Classic Teaching

This year, Kailyn Cripe has her class reading The Count of Monte Cristo, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Odyssey, among other works of literature. A good dose of the classics—just what every high school student needs, right? Except this: Cripe’s students are sixth graders.

Cripe, a 2008 middle childhood education graduate, has spent the last two years teaching at Renaissance Public Academy, a small charter school in rural Oregon whose curriculum is rooted in the classics. “What we believe is that through the ancient teachings, the classical writings, we can actually use these people as the teachers,” she says. “We can use these characters and their flaws and traits to teach what it is to be morally just.”

When her students read Julius Caesar, for example, Cripe asks them whether a moral argument can be made for killing Caesar. And on the matter of valor, Cripe’s students debate whether Odysseus or Achilles was the greater hero. (“The boys love Achilles, just because he’s a warrior,” Cripe says.) It doesn’t matter to Cripe which character her students pick, as long as they are talking. “If I can pull moral questions from the book and we can have discussions about them, that, to me, is where the learning takes place,” she says.

Renaissance Public Academy is a small school, 15 minutes from a farming community called Molalla that grows Christmas trees. “It’s in the middle of nowhere,” she says. “We’re 1,800 feet up in the mountains. We get a lot of snow. We get a lot of wild animals: the occasional bear, the occasional wild mountain cat warning. Definitely deer. It’s very beautiful. Cows wander through the parking lot.”

Cripe commutes two and a half hours roundtrip every day from Portland, a city she moved to on a whim after a stint at an international school in Panama. She found the teaching position on Craigslist and despite the commute, it appealed to her immediately.

Cripe attended a high school in Maryland with a similar classical education. The school instilled in her a love for writers like Charles Dickens and Herman Melville, and philosophers like St. Augustine and Cicero.

Renaissance is only 2 years old but is growing. Cripe’s sixth-grade class grew from 13 to 24 students this year. That means even better discussions, and a happier Ms. Cripe. “The curriculum and the classical philosophy, I just love them,” she says. “I don’t know that I could teach at a school that doesn’t implement something similar.”

Real Teaching

Like many teachers, Kevin Dockery took a vacation this summer. But while he sank his toes in the sand of a Charleston, S.C., beach, he was also teaching a government class in a school district 500 miles away. All he needed was his laptop and cell phone.

“I’m pretty flexible,” says Dockery, a 1994 communication arts graduate in Nashville, Tenn. “I’ve given kids phone calls and tests over the phone from my son’s lacrosse games or sitting in the car in a parking lot somewhere.”

That’s par for the course for Dockery, who teaches online government and Advanced Placement U.S. history classes to high school students in a virtual school launched last year by the Metro Nashville Public School District. Virtual schools are popping up around the country as tech-savvy and time-strapped teens are finding online classes an attractive alternative to brick and mortar classrooms. Nashville’s virtual school offers classes in everything from psychology to algebra to economics—even physical fitness.

Many of Dockery’s students also attend a physical school. They use the virtual school to make up a class they missed or because it better suits their schedule. For some it’s to get ahead on credits or because they have a job. One student enrolled so she could look after an ageing relative. The flexibility of the model is the key to its success—students can do their coursework in a time and place of their choosing. Once he gave a telephone test to a student who was sitting in a McDonald’s.

Dockery, who spent five years teaching history in a Georgia high school, doesn’t miss the logistics of brick-and-mortar education. It’s not all sunny in cyberspace, though. He has to be prepared to answer student questions at all times of the day. The Internet makes it hard to employ the Socratic method and generate engaging discussions, and some students don’t adjust well to the self-directed learning. Plus Dockery misses the face-to-face interaction with students. But he’s pleased to see technology creating more learning opportunities for teenagers.

“I think it’s a sign of the times,” he says. “The technology opens up doors that weren’t there 10-15 years ago.” Is it the wave of the future? “I don’t know if it will ever be exclusively this way,” he says, “but I do think it will be something that’s available for a lot of kids.”

App Alert

When Kristi Zuhlke was a marketing and entrepreneurship student at Xavier, she couldn’t wait until graduation to start her own business. So she didn’t.

During her sophomore year, she and two classmates pooled their resources, business knowledge and free time and opened FliX, a video rental store on campus. It was Xavier’s first student-owned and operated business. Two years later, she walked into a job at Procter & Gamble with a belief in herself and some leeway to innovate within the brands she was assigned. After a few years, though, her entrepreneurial spirit grew restless.

“I was starting to really get the itch to start my own business,” she says, “and I knew the timing was right.”

So Zuhlke consulted the notebook of business ideas she began keeping at Xavier and found the one she felt most passionate about: a phone app that helps detect signs of melanoma. It’s a personal passion for Zuhlke, whose husband fought the cancer. “He’ll never be in the clear,” says Zuhlke. She tried to keep track of his moles but quickly realized she could use some help. “I can’t remember where I put my keys let alone if his mole had changed from a month ago,” she says. Zuhlke talked to a programmer at MIT, and together they created Mole Detective, an app that analyzes photographs of moles to detect the symptoms of melanoma.

Users pinpoint the location of their mole on an anatomical diagram. Then they measure and photograph the mole with their phone’s camera. The app analyzes the picture and delivers its verdict. Whatever the conclusion, users are encouraged to schedule regular checkups, and the app lists nearby dermatologists. The app, which sells for $4.99, has received positive reviews from dermatologists, and from Shape and Glamour magazines. But it’s the testimonials of people who have used the app to detect problems early that mean the most to Zuhlke. “That’s been the rewarding part of this,” she says. “I’d really like to continue to develop tools that help people monitor their health.”

Full Stride

Professor of management information systems Mark Frolick picked up his first camera at age 13—an old Nikon FTN that he bought for $300 from the high school newspaper photographer who lived down the road.

He started shooting sports. He liked fast subjects.

Years went by, and Frolick continued pursuing his hobby, adding sunsets, beaches and his pet cats to his list of photographic interests. Then, last fall, another subject caught his eye.

He was attending a fundraiser for the Cincinnati Zoo, and he saw a cheetah running. His eyes widened. “I’ve always loved cheetahs,” he says.

When he learned the Zoo lets the cats loose to run in a field on Saturdays, his imagination took off in a sprint as well.

“It’s like poetry in motion,” he says. “It’s what these animals were born to do.”

Frolick showed up with his camera the next Saturday. And the next. And the one after that. He got to know each of the Zoo’s five cheetahs.

“They have distinct personalities,” he says. “Like housecats.”

There’s Sara, the 12-year-old female, who holds the record as the world’s fastest mammal. (Four years ago, she ran 100 meters in 6.13 seconds.) There’s also Nia, Chance, Bravo and Tommy T.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos that run their cheetahs. Keepers release the cats into a field, where they chase a mechanized lure—“basically a dog toy,” says Frolick. Cheetahs aren’t the easiest subjects to photograph. They run as fast as 70 miles per hour, and they turn on a dime.

“Imagine a running back, only running three times as fast,” Frolick says. “You shoot a lot and hope you get something. You spray and pray.”

In hundreds of frames, Frolick might have a few keepers. The rest? “I call them my cheetah butt shots,” he says. “Because that’s all you get. They’re gone.”

Frolick has compiled his favorite cheetah photos into an unpublished book. He’s already adding to that collection. The Cincinnati Zoo has the best cheetah program in the country, he says. He’ll be back documenting these quick cats “any time they’ll let me.”

Profile: M. Stephanie Martin

M. Stephanie Martin

Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, 2008

Human resources assistant,

Military Science, Xavier Cincinnati

Flying the coop | During high school, M. Stephanie Martin spent a summer in New Jersey with her uncle, a command sergeant major in the Army. “I loved the PX and the commissary,” she says. “And I liked the uniform.” She also wanted to travel. When she graduated, she moved up to Detroit, enlisted in the Army and got a uniform of her own.

Traveling wings | Martin served her first two assignments at Fort Jackson, S.C. Then she went to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she saw her first maroon berets—members of the 82nd Airborne Division. “There was something different about them,” Martin says. “They walked with their chests out.”

Leap of faith | Martin married a paratrooper in 1982 and enlisted in the 82nd in 1983. She trained, endured fortitude tests and took one final physical to be cleared for jump status. That’s when she learned she was pregnant. Two kids later, she tried again. “My first jump was the easiest,” she says. “You just jumped. The second was harder. You’re like, Hmm, I survived that one. Do I really want to do this again?”

Jump status | Martin jumped 52 times in all. How does one fall safely from the sky? “Keep everything tucked and tight, feet and knees together,” she says. As you fall, count to four. If your chute hasn’t opened by then, pull your secondary. Yield to the lower jumper, and land in a roll with five points of contact—feet, calf, thigh, butt and back. (Although usually it’s more like “feet, knees, face, or feet, butt, back-of-the-head,” she says. “It all happens really fast.”)

Around the world | Women paratroopers don’t enter combat. “I was doing HR,” she says. “But, because I was a paratrooper, I got to hang out with some really cool people.” She also got to travel to Korea twice and was a courier to Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War. (Often she didn’t know her cargo. She got stuck in Spain once because she was carrying Class B explosives.) In 2002, she served in a Joint Special Operations Command force in Uzbekistan.

Boots on the ground | Today, Martin manages the paperwork of student cadets as the human resources assistant for Xavier’s ROTC program. “Sometimes I put my mama hat on, sometimes I put my sergeant’s hat on,” she says. She gives some students their first salute when they become commissioned officers. For that, she pulls on her uniform once again.

Continuing service | In 2011, Martin received the Army’s regional Civilian of the Year award for community service. A mentor for at-risk youth, she is also a caregiver for disabled people and a signer in her church. She stays busy, even with a bad back and knee from jumping out of planes. “There’s a saying: Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” she says. “I haven’t had anything boring in my life. Even now, I’m still having the adventures of a lifetime.”

Profile: Ryan Krcmarich

Ryan Krcmarich

Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs,

2001 Owner, Tacos Without Borders

Indianapolis

Career Shift | After graduating from Xavier, Ryan Krcmarich spent six years organizing political campaigns. “I’ve always been a people person,” he says. “Meeting all the people, listening to them, that was always my favorite part of campaigns.” The 90-hour, seven-day workweeks got old, though. While studying for his master’s in public affairs, he found his next calling: the mobile food business.

Meals on wheels | Krcmarich had read about the food truck scene of Los Angeles, and he wanted in. First, he needed a city with little competition. He picked Indianapolis. Then he needed a vehicle. He bought a cranky, 27-foot 1998 Chevy, an old Doritos truck with a kitchen in the back. After a few repairs, Tacos Without Borders was open for business. “It was an interesting first year,” he says. “I was learning everything on the fly. I’d never even worked in a restaurant before.”

Tacos with a twist | Tacos are Krcmarich’s fare, but not your standard hard shell. “I want people to step away from Taco Bell,” he says. “I want them to try ethnic foods through the comfort of a tortilla.” His menu includes a Thai Penang curry taco, a spicy peanut taco, an Indian butter chicken taco and more. “To my knowledge, I’m the only one who’s ever come up with an African taco,” he says. “And I have three different ones.” All come with slaw, scallions and Cotija cheese.

International inspiration | At Xavier, Krcmarich was known for his cooking. One time, a friend called Krcmarich in a panic. He’d invited a girl for dinner at his place. But he was a hopeless cook. So Krcmarich went over, cooked dinner and left before the girl arrived, letting his friend take the credit. Krcmarich found international influence at Xavier, too. On Sundays he would join a friend from New Delhi for meals with his family. He’d never eaten Indian food before, but he grew to love it. Now Krcmarich seeks inspiration from almost 400 international cookbooks. “I’m trying to accumulate one from every country.”

Rolling along | Krcmarich was the second food truck in Indianapolis when he started in 2010. By the next spring, there were 12. Now there are 40. That’s no sweat for Krcmarich, who gets most of his business at company lunches and private events. Food bloggers in Indianapolis call him “The Elusive One,” since his truck is so rarely in public. He did work this year’s Super Bowl, and was even invited to sell at an NFL Players Association event. But otherwise, Krcmarich is happy to whip up his ethnic tacos alone, in the back of his truck. “I really enjoy cooking. You get in there, pop in your mp3 player and do what you’ve got to do.” Krcmarich loves the freedom his wheels bring. “I don’t ever want to work for anyone ever again. I just enjoy cooking, talking to people and being my own boss.”

Golf Goes Inside

Hours after a spring cloudburst, Doug Steiner walks over to a puddle in the parking lot of the Maketewah Country Club, plants his feet in the water and looks up.

“The front door is going to be right…here,” he says.

In front of him are two empty tennis courts and 15 acres of tangled undergrowth. But the director of Xavier’s golf programs sees something else entirely: An indoor golf facility, designed to give Xavier’s golfers a year-round practice area just two miles from campus.

“My players will have exactly what they need to be good,” he says. “That’s a good feeling for a coach.”

He’s been building this dream for two years now. There were times when he wondered if it would be realized, but now the plans are drawn and the shovels hit the soil as soon as contracts are finalized and signed.

“Ah, it’s goose bumps for me,” Steiner says, shaking the ice in his soda and touching his arms. “Truly. It’s pure excitement, paired with relief.”

Steiner’s journey to this parking lot puddle began two years ago when he lost a top recruit to Purdue University, which had an indoor facility.

“All the big programs in this part of the country started building them,” Steiner says. “Kids want to go where they can practice all year round.”

Xavier’s golf program is already highly regarded. Golf Digest ranks it 19th best in the country and No. 1 in the Midwest. It has produced many successful players, including Jason Kokrak (see sidebar), who plays on the PGA Tour and beat Tiger Woods this February at Pebble Beach, and Andy Pope, who plays one step down on the Nationwide Tour.

But Steiner knew if Xavier was to keep pace with other programs, it needed the facilities to attract the best players. So he and his staff started dreaming. “We were drawing things on napkins in the early stages,” Steiner says. They visited facilities at other universities and began raising money. Steiner’s initial goal was $200,000. When he met that, he aimed for $400,000. After 15 months of fundraising, he had $850,000. Maketewah Country Club, Xavier’s new home course, chipped in the rest of the money for a $1.3 million building, slated to be finished in time for winter practice.

“It’s become a necessity now,” Steiner says. “Ten years ago, it might not have mattered. Now it matters if we want to be great.”

It matters to Korey Ward, a tall freshman at the driving range, knocking balls 175 yards in fluid strokes with his seven-iron. An Ohio Amateur Champion, Ward chose Xavier for its golf program, education and proximity to home. He can’t wait to have a year-round practice facility, especially on days like today when pools of rainwater cover the driving range.

“We’re all very excited about it,” he says. “It will give us a chance to practice in the winter. It will be pretty spectacular, from what I hear.”

Judging by the plans, Ward won’t be disappointed. The tri-level, 10,000-square-foot building includes men’s and women’s locker rooms, a 3,500-square-foot putting green, four covered hitting bays and a Cobra-Puma fitting center. It will also have a kitchen, conference room, trophy room and study lounge. And a short game area behind the building allows players to practice their putts, chips and wedges.

“It’s kind of like our own clubhouse,” Steiner says. “My dream is that a player, on a snowy day in February, can take a two-minute drive and stay all day. They can putt, chip, drive, make something to eat and study for class.”

Steiner says Xavier’s recent successes and talented young recruits bode well for the future of the golf program. As he talks, he checks his phone for news updates—Kokrak just teed off at the PGA Transitions Championship in Florida.

“One of my dreams as a coach was to have a guy make the PGA tour,” Steiner says. “My next dream is to win the Masters. What would it be like to have a Xavier guy win the Masters? It would be big. It’s possible.”

More immediately, Steiner is looking forward to the new building that will elevate the golf program among its competitors and even within the University. “It gives us a home,” Steiner says. “This will be our Cintas.”

Ironman, Iron Mind

If exercise is an addiction, then swimming was Bryan Krabbe’s gateway drug. Krabbe’s mother, a nurse, is responsible.

She instilled healthy eating and fitness habits in her kids from an early age, and enrolled Krabbe and his sisters in swimming lessons. Krabbe developed a taste for the sport. He swam through high school at St. Xavier, and in college he dabbled in water polo.

It wasn’t until he was getting his master’s in nutrition at the University of Cincinnati that Krabbe started running. A friend training for a marathon turned him on to it. Krabbe, now a student in Xavier’s PsyD program, started jogging with her. “Nothing extreme,” he says, at first. “It was difficult. I ended up getting a lot of shin splints. I wasn’t used to that long-distance stuff.”

But it got easier, and soon he was training for marathons himself. “It gave me a goal,” he says. “A reason to exercise.” The more he ran, the faster he became. In 2004, he qualified for the Boston Marathon. “That was enjoyable,” he says. But before long, even marathons lost their luster. He hankered for a bigger challenge.

“One of my friends suggested triathlons,” Krabbe says. “He knew I was a swimmer and had been running. But I didn’t have a bicycle.” So he went out and bought one. “That might be fun,” he thought. “Something different.”

He started cycling with people, building up his distance. He entered some shorter triathlons, and then, in 2006, he signed up for the Ironman race in Madison, Wis., an exercise binge that packages a 2.4-mile swim with a 112-mile bike ride followed by a full marathon. Did he ever doubt he could do it?

“I didn’t really think about it that much,” he says. “That helped.” Two other things helped, too: the knowledge that a friend had done it, “and maybe some arrogance on my part.” The race began and 11 hours and 23 minutes later, an exhausted Krabbe crossed the finish line. It was a memorable high.

“This peace overcame me,” Krabbe says. “This huge sense of accomplishment and confidence that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to.” The feeling went beyond fitness. It also inspired Krabbe to get his doctorate in psychology at Xavier, where he is, fittingly, president of the Student Health Advisory Council.

Madison didn’t kick Krabbe’s exercise habit, though. Six triathlons later he had shaved one hour and 40 minutes off his Madison time, finished second in his age group and qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. He went there to join the world’s top endurance athletes in the 2011 race. “Being there, seeing the professional athletes, it was a dream come true,” he says.

With all that behind him, it’s hard to imagine any higher fitness aspiration for Krabbe. But he’s signed up for another triathlon this summer, one he hopes to win. He’s also helping friends and fellow Xavier students get hooked on exercising. Maybe not a triathlon right away, he says, but how about a 5K? Go on. Just try it.