August Vacation

It’s that quiet time of year for those of us still at Saint Dominic Academy. Summer classes are completed, schedules are all ready to be mailed out, and the building itself is undergoing some “face lifting” in order to be as welcoming and as beautiful as possible when the young ladies return in September. And so, for the next few weeks, I will be quiet as well- at least as far as this blog is concerned. I am taking some vacation time myself, to rest, relax, enjoy my soon to be seven year old, and to prepare to return refreshed to lead Saint Dominic Academy through the 2018-2019 school year, which will be the 140th anniversary of this beloved school.

I will be back to blog with a fresh new perspective, interesting topics and insights pertaining to the women of SDA on Monday September third. Until then, I leave each of you with this bit of inspiration…one that I feel is fitting for all the special moments that occur in the sunny days of August.


Stop waiting for Friday,

For fall,

For someone to fall in love with you,

For life.

Happiness is achieved when you stop

Waiting for it and make

The most of the moment you are in now.

Casting Complete…The King and I at SDA!

It’s been a theatrical summer for this Head of School. I saw Escape to Margaritaville in June, Pretty Woman- The Musical in July (which I highly recommend) and in just two days, I head off with my little one to see Hamilton! I’ve been waiting a full year to see this and am quite excited. In addition, my daughter has been hard at work all summer long- she is playing Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach, Jr. I am, of course, over the moon excited to see her onstage doing what she loves the first weekend in August.

Here too at Saint Dominic Academy, our drama director Ms. Stephanie DeSarle is getting quite excited…she spent July casting the female roles in our production of The King and I and this year, is partnering with our experienced dance coach Marie Pompeo-Maffia in order to stage what is sure to be our most elaborate production yet. The curtain rises on November 30 and December 1st, and more information about tickets and the pre-show receptions will be coming in the fall. Also being announced in the fall are the names of our King of Siam and Lun Tha as well as some younger faces who will join us and play the royal princes and princesses. ( We are rounding up some “future” SDA girls for these adorable parts!) For now, it is my extreme pleasure to share with you, the Saint Dominic Academy Cast List for The King and I.


Anna Leonowens Julia Rinaldi
Lady Thiang Rachel Perrie
Tuptim Valentyna Simon
The King of Siam TBD
The Kralahome Reagan Mattiello
Lun Tha TBD
Louis(a) Leonowens Abigail Degnan
Prince Chululong Korn Gabby Beredo
Captain Orton Caitlin Aristizabal
The Interpreter Alison Mah
Phra Alack Caitlin Aristizabal
Sir Edward Ramsey Jessica Stanley
Princess Ying Yaowlak Veronica Dominguez
Royal Wives Led by:

Alyssa Fuentes


Téa Baramidze

Liv Lekovish

Christis Shepard

Ensemble (Cross Cast)

Royal Dancers Aisha Adeboye and SDA’s Dance Team
Royal Princes and Princesses SDA Family/TBA
Buddhist Priests, Amazons Ensemble (Cross Cast)

Spend An SDA Day at the Races This August!

Calling all racing fans..for the second year in a row, Saint Dominic Academy is embracing a “gift of the Garden State” and hosting a summer event for families, alumnae, and friends of SDA.

Whether you’re a fan of horse racing or not, there is no doubt that a day at Monmouth Park is an experience that every New Jerseyean has to undertake at least once in his or her life. So, if you have not yet come down to the track, make your inaugural visit this summer as part of our SDA Day at the Races. If you and Monmouth Park are “old buddies”, then please come and celebrate with us this summer.

On Sunday, August 5th , we will host our 2nd Annual SDA Day at the Races at Monmouth Park! We will celebrate this day with family and friends; children are welcome. Food is always available for purchase at the Park, or you can pack a cooler and picnic with friends as the ponies speed by! Our goal for the day is a simple one; to come together and enjoy each other’s company in this historic and picturesque New Jersey setting.

The SDA Alumnae Association is organizing this event on behalf of the school. For more information, you can visit the Alumnae section of the Saint Dominic Academy website.

An SDA Artist in Residence!

This week, let’s give some well deserved congratulations to our own Eryn Lewis who is currently spending three weeks in Juneau, Alaska. Eryn was selected to participate in this program by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She will spend time in study with artists in the area, learning studio practices. Her focus for the three weeks will be wood carving, papermaking and printing. After the conclusion of her residence, she will create a body of work which incorporates all of the mastered techniques and her outstanding artwork will be part of an exhibit.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet our beloved Ms. Lewis is well aware of her talents as an artist; and not just at Saint Dominic Academy. Her list of exhibitions is extensive and includes the following:

            The Art Factory, Paterson NJ • Paterson Art Walk

            Brooklyn Art House Library’s Print Exchange 2014• Brooklyn NY

             Fine Art Alliance of Nutley, Nutley NJ • Inaugural Art Show 

             Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal, 2014 • 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro 2014,

             Lamego Museum and Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal • Global Print 2013

             Art on the Avenue, Nutley NJ

             Digital Art Salon, Santa Fe, NM • Alchemy throughout the Ages: Enlightenment through Experience

             Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Manhattan, NY • MFA Exhibition

             Pratt Studios Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Graduate Thesis Exhibition, In Absentia

             Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Pressure Printmaking 1st Annual Print exchange and exhibition

             N.A.W.A. Gallery, New York City, NY • National Association of Women Artists: Small Works Show

             Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ •Pratt Exchange Exhibition, Across the River

             The Ice House, Morgan Art Council, Berkeley Springs, WV • Handmade Paper and Book Arts Exhibition

             Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ •I Love Jersey City, photo exhibition


We at Saint Dominic Academy congratulate and celebrate Eryn as she completes her summer artist in resident program and we eagerly await her return “home” to us in the fall.


That’s Incredible…Or Is It Stereotypical?

Summer is here and with it comes the array of summer movies that people flock to the theater to view. I am no exception; I was at The Incredibles 2 the weekend it opened (Abby chose the movie) and although my readers know I am a dedicated Disney/Pixar fan, I was not overly excited to see Mr. Incredible and the Gang back for a sequel. Let me start by being honest- I do not like superhero movies, even if they are done by Disney. No interest in watching Batman take down the Joker or seeing Superman save the world, or discovering all the hidden talents that the X-Men have—I know for many people it’s a genre of film they embrace, but it has never been my cup of tea.

So, when I met the Incredible Family 14 years ago, I was not overly impressed; the kid runs fast, the girl can be invisible, the mom is basically an amped up Gumby and the dad is big and strong. Oh, and he has that friend (voiced by Samuel L Jackson) who can freeze things. I think true fans of superhero films would recognize these “powers” as fairly stereotypical ones; they’ve been featured in other films many a time. Seeing the, albeit highly amusing, family once again a few weeks ago was not a huge draw for me, but I went and at least expected to be a bit entertained…after all it got great reviews…

From Time Magazine: Incredibles 2 goes even deeper, delving into the fragility of the male ego in a world where women are asserting themselves more every day. Honestly, I was a bit put off by that statement, as well as the incredibly (no pun intended) stereotypical way Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastagirl were depicted in the film. For me, it ran like an episode of every sitcom based around the concept that if the woman is smart, the man must be dumb. So, in this film, Elastagirl heads out to save the world because the world responds best to her as a superhero. They’ve got her all fitted out in a tight suit (as if the one from the first film was not tight enough), she’s at glamorous parties, she’s doing press interviews and all the while, there is Mr. Incredible and at this point the name takes on a mocking tone, at home with his teenage daughter, his hyper son and his baby Jack-Jack, who bursts into flames, turns into a temper tantrum throwing demon and multiples when he is really angry. Dear old dad, of course, has no idea how to handle his kids- he ruins his daughter’s relationship with her potential boy crush, son Dash literally just runs around the house, and sweet little baby fights with a squirrel after he is left unsupervised and gets out of the house. And what does Mr. Incredible do?? He is depicted with bags under his eyes, stubble on his face, and a constant look of sheer exhaustion.

Are we, and is a generation of 6-8 years olds meant to come away from the film with the idea that “mom can do anything- save the world and run the house?” but “Dad, lol, he is so clueless.” Because I for one think that is a very bad message to send out to a young generation. I am wary of movies that empower women at the expense of a man looking like a moron. Even our villain in this film is a woman, while her brother is her sweet unsuspecting clueless minion. So, is that how it is? We can be heroes, but only if the men are incompetent? What kind of empowering message is that? Not one at all, as far as I can see…just another retelling of a ½ hour sitcom that is some 2018 version of “let’s all laugh at dad.”

As you know, I am all for empowered women being depicted in film, in novels and most importantly being praised in real life. However, I felt that the kind of empowerment depicted here was the wrong kind, and most surely the wrong message to send to young men and women. We can be empowered yes, but we can also work together to, if not save the world, at least make it a better place!


O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A Fond Farwell…

As our school year drew to a close, the faculty, staff, administration and students of Saint Dominic Academy had to bid farewell to several beloved members of our staff. Leaving us at the end of this year are three dedicated members of the Saint Dominic Academy family who always went above and beyond for the young ladies of SDA. We wish them well in all of their future endeavors, pray that life continues to bless them, and remind them that they are always a part of our of school community.

Mrs. Gaylor Wade– Business teacher, Guidance assistant, mentor to many of our young ladies; for years she brought wisdom, insight and kind words to the students she taught and to the school in general. Mrs. Wade focused tirelessly on talking to our young ladies about the importance of acting like a lady in all situations, of self respect and self worth, and of how to “make it” in the world. More than just a teacher, she became a confident of many of our seniors each year and the halls of SDA will miss her beautiful smile and gentle laughter.


Mr. Joseph Babico– For years, Mr. Babico has been a gift to the entire SDA Community, sharing his talents (onstage in The Sound of Music) his insights as a veteran English teacher, and perhaps most importantly, the gift of his wife, Mrs. Denise Babico who was always on hand to help out in his Honors classroom, support a school event, or attend a trip with the ladies of SDA. A gentleman in every way, his gifted knowledge of English literature touched the lives of the many 9th and 10th grade students who were blessed to be in his classes over the years. As a fellow English teacher, I will say he has been one of the finest English teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing and he will be missed greatly by all at SDA.


Mr. Thomas Cantwell- Nobody who ever encountered Tom’s warm laughter and Irish brogue ever walked away without a smile on his or her face. He was, for the past years that he had been with SDA, the heart of the school. Here with the sunrise, Tom was the first person many of us, teachers and students included saw each and every morning- guaranteeing that our day started off well. An immaculate building, a spotless and perfect Siena Hall, beautiful landscaping- all done with a smile and a kind word. There were tears in many eyes when Tom said farewell; his included and he left knowing that he is part of the Saint Dominic Academy family and is always welcome at 2572! He will be greatly missed.


My sincere thanks to all three of these dedicated members of the community and my best wishes for all the best life has to offer!

Prayer for Summer Vacation

Take time to claim your strength;
they are gifts of God.
Take time to have fun;
it’s God’s way of teaching you your strengths.
Take time to grow yourself;
only you can grow you.
Take time to trust yourself;
God trusts you.
Take time to be self-reliant;
it is better than being dependent.
Take time to share with others;
they will bless you, and you will bless them.

Take time to have hope,
you are a child of God.
Let’s put ourselves into the hands of the Lord,
and pray that God will bless us and our families
during the wonderful months of summer.
May we all help make our home a place of relaxation,
joy, love, peace and safety.
May we be generous and considerate,
not thinking only about ourselves,
but helping others enjoy the blessings of a summertime.
Lord God, Creator of all things,
guide our steps and strengthen our hearts,
during these months of summer and vacation days.
Grant us refreshment of mind and body.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Thank You To The PTA!

As some of you may know, in addition to my position as Head of School at Saint Dominic Academy, I also hold another title which is almost as special to me. I am First Grade Class Mom at All Saints Catholic Academy. I’ve been the class mom for Abigail’s class since she started at ASCA in Pre-K Three. If you’ve never been a Class Parent or a room volunteer in an elementary school, I am here to say it is a great experience.

As a working mother, I will admit it is a sacrifice at times to volunteer. Most of the work that goes into my role as Class Mom is done in the late hours of the evening or the wee hours of the morning. At times, it is one more errand to run before I get home from work, or one more binge worthy TV program I do not see because I am writing reminder letters. And knowing all that, I must say, I am in constant awe of the members of the Saint Dominic Academy Parent Association. For, when I look at how much work goes into being a volunteer in the kindergarten, I have to multiply it by tenfold to fully appreciate how much work our volunteers here do!

For years, Catholic education has relied in part on the volunteers within the school who are willing to give back; to join a committee, to organize a fundraiser, to coordinate an event for students and without these volunteers in place, how could any school truly run well? Parents are an essential part of the Catholic school community; it has always been that way and it will never change. And so, as the end of the school year is always a time for heartfelt thanks, today I want to express my thanks, my gratitude and my appreciation for those members of the Saint Dominic Academy Parent Association this year.

They are as follows:

President- Mary Dowden

VP/Secretary- Maria Sasso

Treasurer- Stacey Swope

Social Media Coordinator- Peggie Marano

Communion Brunch Chairs: Kelly Lekic/Cathy Sabia

Back to School Chairs: Eileen and Chris Gill

Designer Bag Coordinator: Gigi Diaz

I thank each of you for a wonderful year and from one parent volunteer to another, I hope you know how very much you are appreciated and valued by all of us here at Saint Dominic Academy!

Graduation Remarks 2018

When I was a little girl, much younger than all of the young ladies sitting before me today, my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. I could watch it over and over again; much to my parents dismay I am sure. The transition from black and white to color, the sparkle of those ruby slippers, that twisting yellow brick road, and the beautiful Emerald City, where they can even dye your eyes to match your gown…not to mention a beautiful young heroine and a wicked old witch- it was the joy of my childhood whenever it was on the television.

Although I am not quite as “obsessed” with the film today, I still do watch it when it is on and more and more, it brings tears to my eyes. For in essence, the film is all about the transformation from an unsure young girl to a strong and empowered young woman…and in many ways, it tells the story of each and every young lady sitting before me today. Ladies, you are mere moments away from leaving Saint Dominic Academy; a world as unique and as special as Oz itself. Granted, we do not have yellow brick roads or flying monkeys, but over the past four, and for three of you the past five years, a life changing journey has taken place; a journey that will set you on the path for the rest of your life.

You came to SDA in the 8th or 9th grade as suddenly as that tornado dropped Dorothy into Oz. Overwhelmed, a bit confused, more than a bit disoriented, you immediately had to get to know and work with all the people who inhabited the world of Saint Dominic Academy. From the first period on your first day of school, your feet were upon an invisible yellow brick road. Just like in the film, the road turned in various ways, sometimes leading you to a new friendship that you now treasure in your heart, sometimes leading you into a situation in which you needed to work hard to overcome.

At times, you may have sought the advice of a wise mentor and at times, you may have needed to discover your inner strengths on your own. However, each and every one of you persevered, grew stronger, and grew more confident as you journeyed through high school. Today is the culmination of that journey and although I have no ruby slippers to give you; let me call to your minds the scene in the film where Dorothy realizes she has had the power to return to Kansas all the time. The gift to make yourself happy, to make yourself successful, to become the best person you can be resides inside of each of you, and has from the moment you took your first breath. Our role as your guides and helpers is done; it is now your turn to head off on your next adventure and I wish you the best of luck on whatever roads you follow in the future.

It is now time for me to say goodbye to you and I think it is only fitting that I use the words Dorothy herself used to say her final goodbye to the Scarecrow…”I will miss you most of all.” Congratulations, Class of 2018 and you will be loved always.

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