CCHAT Alumni Spotlight: Elijah Guenthner


CCHAT is proud to watch its amazing alumni students go on to enjoy success after leaving the program. It is even more special when they return to campus as staff or volunteers to give back to future generations of children with hearing loss.

Elijah Guenthner, an alum from the Class of 2011, recently spent time at CCHAT, and the experience was equally rewarding for students and staff as it was for him.

Looking Back at His CCHAT Experience

Elijah spent the 2010-2011 school year in CCHAT’s preschool class before mainstreaming into his neighborhood school. Though he was just 3 years old at the time, CCHAT left an indelible mark on his life.

“I do remember the Thanksgiving feast, the classroom environment and getting to play a lot. And who can forget Diane?” Elijah said, referencing beloved CCHAT teacher Diane Durston. 

With the tools developed at CCHAT, Elijah was ready to enjoy Pre-K with his hearing peers, but CCHAT remained an active resource for Elijah and his family. 

“The speech therapy I was given at CCHAT helped me build the confidence I needed for a mainstream classroom,” he said. “After I graduated, I have continued to receive support from the CCHAT staff at school. CCHAT has still been a big part of my life.”

The Chance to Give Back

Now 15 and a high school freshman, Elijah recently began a rigorous academic program. He joined his school’s Quiz Bowl and Speech & Debate teams, but his coursework also included a community service component. Elijah knew just where he wanted to volunteer.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to CCHAT,” Elijah said. “The assistance and resources provided to me have played a great part in my personal and academic growth.”

Elijah immediately became a popular figure when he stepped onto CCHAT’s campus – both among the staff who were overjoyed to reconnect, and the young students who looked up to him and wanted to compare listening devices.

“I had an amazing day being around all the kids,” Elijah said. “I am really thankful I had this wonderful opportunity.”

After leading an art project and spending time with students on the playground, Elijah quickly made plans for his next visit. He agreed to be the Master of Ceremonies for CCHAT’s 2023 Winter Showcase and also expressed interest in being a full-time counselor for CCHAT’s next summer school session. 

“Because CCHAT gave me so much the year I attended, volunteering is a way I can give back and show my appreciation to the staff at CCHAT,” Elijah said. 

A Bright Future

Elijah has exciting plans for the future outside of his continued relationship with CCHAT. While he has time to figure it out, he currently has eyes on becoming a defense lawyer or a professional sports scout. In the short term, he plans to join his school’s Track team and continue immersing himself in the high school experience.

Rekindling his connection with CCHAT was important to Elijah. He especially enjoys showing current CCHAT families that anything is possible for their child, and that hearing loss is not a roadblock to anything they want to achieve.

“My words for parents are just to trust the process. CCHAT will give you all the building blocks your children will need to be mainstreamed,” Elijah said. “My family and I are also aware that CCHAT will always be there for me when I need them.”

To read about other CCHAT alumni students doing special things in the community, visit our ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS page. 

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