Forget Your Troubles…

This week, it is my pleasure to share with you the words of reflection on the theme for the 2019-2020 school year that I shared with the young ladies in grades 7-12 at our Opening Mass this past Friday. I hope you all will “sing” with us this year and forget your troubles, come on, get happy! It’s going to be a year full of excitement and wonder at Saint Dominic Academy! 

Good morning ladies and welcome to the 2019-2020 school year. Those of you who are not new to SDA will well remember that each year, we have an overall theme for our teachers as well as our students. Last year, we took inspiration from the film Moana and made our theme “ Find Happiness Where You Are.” And what a joy filled year it was!

This year, I want our theme to springboard off that idea and celebrate the mindset that Saint Dominic Academy is a place where we come together with friends and teachers and administrators and find ourselves, at different moments on varying days, being truly happy.

 It is easy to arrive on a Monday morning, or depart on a Friday afternoon feeling as if we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. You and I both know well how bogged down we can get in issues both great and small and on those days, our happiness is diminished.

 And, if we cannot be happy, truly happy, for just a few moments each day then after awhile that has an effect on our relationships: with our friends, our loved ones, our parents and yes, even our teachers! What we want, each and every day here is to be filled with joy, to forget our troubles, and to just celebrate whatever happiness, great or small, comes across our desks each day. And so…our theme for the year is quite fitting and even set to music. Each one of us has chosen to spend the upcoming school year together, with each other at Saint Dominic Academy and so, together, we are going to do the following: 

Forget your troubles, come on get happy! 

I’d now like to invite Rachel Perrie, class of 2020 to the front to truly get us in the spirit of the theme for the year. Rachel will sing this iconic song for us, and very soon this year, I hope you’ll all learn to sing it too! 

Back to the Garden…

Father of our HOS, Joe Degnan, a child of the 60s and grandparent today, celebrating 50 Years of Woodstock with granddaughter Abigail and grand niece Regan.

Yesterday was Grandparents Day and this current generation of grandparents surely were busy when they were teenagers. 50 years ago, the summer of 69 saw the culmination of one of those most iconic and turbulent decades our country has ever seen. By the time we hit that summer, peppered with a myriad of historical events, the grandparents of today had spent a decade spearheading change in the United States. From the Selma Bus Rides, to the first African American on the Supreme Court, from the loss of both JFK and RFK to the British Invasion, peaceful protests of the Vietnam war and the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, Abbie Hoffman protesting at the Stock Exchange, The Stonewall Riots and the murder of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, the list of what transpired during the 1960’s is seemingly endless, all culminating in that final summer of 1969.

The nation and a generation of now grandparents saw the Chappaquiddick and Manson tragedies that summer. They heard President Nixon pledge to finally pull troops out of Vietnam. They watched, breathless on black and white televisions as Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind.” A genearation that saw the first sit ins take place in 1960, watched James Meredith register at Ole Miss, lived through the Freedom Summer, heard Dr. King speak about his “Dream” for America, saw the founding of the National Organization for Women and the introduction of the Civil Rights Act now saw the seeminlgy impossible- we had reached outside the boundaries of earth and touched the surface of the moon. In a summer where the moon landing occurred, could anything else be as equally culturally significant to the youth of the 1960’s?

There was one other defining moment of the Summer of 69- it took place for three days on a farm in New York. Perhaps many of the grandparents of today were there and even for those that were not, the word “Woodstock” has become over the past fifty years the definition of peace and love. From all walks of life, young adults, not much older than the ones I see in the hall each day, the one who lived through perhaps the decade that shaped our country the most, came together for three days to celebrate. What one belief united them? They wanted a peaceful world, not full of hate and violence and bias, but full of tolerance and openmindeness and love. After all, wasn’t that what they had been dreaming about for 10 years? Wasn’t that what Kennedy and King told them to aspire to, encouraged them to believe in, and rallied them to take calls to action for? 

Perhaps a three day rock concert was not going to change the world, but these young men and women had spent the past ten years trying to change the world for the better, and in many ways they did. ( However, after that 3 day rock concert, I think we can say music was never the same!) At Woodstock and all over the United Sates, people saw each other not as strangers, but as friends. Nobody saw color or gender or any of the labels that create a climate of hate and fear. What the 60’s generation saw when they went all the way to Woodstock was unity.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and young, one of the performers at the legendary concert perhaps captured the spirit best when they sang (in 1970) 

We are stardust,

We are golden.

for indeed we are; every one of us. Filled with light and joy, happiness and love, if only we are willing to let down our guard and shine as brightly as God intended. The over 500 thousand people at Yasgur’s Farm shone brightly those three days and truly embraced the ideals of peace, tolerance and above all love for our fellow man. 

The children of yesterday, the grandparents of today had the strongest message of peace our country has ever seen. For fifty years now, they have lived by those beliefs, have raised children and grandchildren to embrace those ideals and have worked tirelessly to create a better world.

They did NOT do that so a new generation could dismantle it with hate and intolerance and harassment and anger. We ALL, you and I both, need to take a lesson for our Woodstock Generation now, before they fade too far into memory and their ideals become not something to embrace and celebrate, but a one liner for the history books. Their generation created for us, all of us, a world that tried to foster equality and love. Let us not ever ever lose sight of that. The “Flower Children” and indeed all children of the 1960’s created for American a beautiful and peaceful garden in which we were invited to reside. So today, I encourage us as adults and our teenage generation to, as Crosby Stills, Nash and Young tell us “ get ourselves back to the garden”. It’s simple really, all we need to do is follow the path that was started for us by a beautiful and historic generation 50 years ago.

August Vacation

It’s that quiet time of year for those of us still at Saint Dominic Academy. As such, for the month of August, this blog will be quiet too. I am taking some vacation time myself, to rest, relax, enjoy my soon-to-be eight year old, and to prepare to return refreshed to lead Saint Dominic Academy for another year. If you are missing my thoughts on anything and everything- remember all the old blogs are still online- go back and re-read any favorites you have! 

I will be back to blog with a fresh new perspective, interesting topics and insights pertaining to the women of SDA in September . Until then, I leave each of you with this August prayer.

May you walk with God
This summer In whatever you do
Wherever you go

Walking with God means…
Walking with honesty And with courage,
Walking with love And respect
And concern for the feelings of others

May you talk to God
This summer And every day and
In every situation

Talking with God means…
Praying words of praise For the beauty of creation
Saying prayers of thanks For friends and good times,
Asking God’s help In all your decisions
Expressing sorrow When you have failed

May you talk with God
Every day Amen

Lights, Camera, Action!

Let’s play a quick game…shall we?  Leave your score in the comments if you’d like.  Can you name the movie each of these famous lines came from?

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”

“I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”

“ You had me at hello”

“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

“If you build it, he will come.”

“They’re HERE!”

“Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”

“May the Force be with you.”

Ok did anyone get ten out of ten?  You can email me for the answers if you are stumped on one or two ( or just go to AFI.com- they are all from the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes!)  So, why are we playing this game on a sunny Monday in mid – July?  Well, the answer is elementary, my dear Watson.  Saint Dominic Academy added a new elective to its roster of classes for the 2019-2020 school year. Open to 11th and 12th grades, the Film Studies class will begin its “award winning” year on September 6th, 2019. 

The major purpose of this course will be to examine the culture of film, and the effect different film genres have had on society as a whole.  Students will examine film sources as points of cultural significance in America. Special attention will be given to the creative and technical elementals essential to visual communication on film.  This class provides students with an opportunity to examine in depth the role Hollywood plays in American culture. The genres being studied are: Horror, Sci/Fi- Fantasy, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Mystery and Biography and the movie selections range from 1933 to 2017. 

There is always something new going on here at SDA and this year is no exception.  And in case you were curious as to who is “directing” this class for the year…look no further than this blog.  I am very much looking forward to introducing this new elective class to your daughters this school year!

Meet The Nicest Kids In Town!

Save the date now to “meet the nicest kids in town!” Saint Dominic Academy will present Hairspray! the Musical on January 10th and 11th 2020! Although that seems far away while we bask in the glow of the summer sun, it will be here before we know it. To that end, auditions for principal character roles were held over the last few weeks, and today, I am pleased to share our Cast List for our musical production! We are welcoming back some of our past leading ladies and also have some newcomers joining our principal cast. The show will once again be directed by Ms. Stephanie De Sarle and choreography will be by Saint Dominic Academy alumna Lexylee Martinez ’18. Jennifer Parra, class of 2021 will serve as Stage Manager. 

 Tracy Turnblad Rachel Perrie

Edna Turnblad Emily Perri 

Velma Von Tussle Alyssa Fuentes 

Amber Von Tussle Gabby Beredo 

Corny Collins Avery Aquino 

Link Larkin Byron Flores Jr. 

Motormouth Mable Mikalya Cintron 

Seaweed Stubbs Maximillian Rueda 

Lil Inez Stubbs Abigail Rowan Degnan 

Penny Pingleton Veronica Dominguez 

Prudy Pingleton Reagan Mattiello 

Wilbur Turnblad Joseph Basilio 

Ensemble Elena Hernandez, Fiona Gomez,

Miya Morrison, Jaiden Winters

Arianna Santana, Mikalah Merizalde…and other featured voices. 

 

As with years past, we will be hosting two receptions before the show. Alumnae, save the date now for our Alumnae Reception on January 11th. January 10th will be a reception for our Board of Trustees members of and Friends of Saint Dominic Academy. 

Incoming students in grades 7 and 9 as well as all transfer students, if you are interested in joining the cast of Hairspray! please email our Theater Arts Director, Ms. Stephanie DeSarle at sdesarle@stdominicacad.com. Rehearsals start in September and we’d love to have you join our cast. Welcome to the Sixties, SDA! 

So Long, Partner…Toy Story 4

Spoiler alert!

 It’s been a week since I went to see Toy Story Four with Abigail. And…I still cannot stop crying over the film. For those of us who ventured to see Toy Story back in 1995, this ending truly brought home the concept that Woody himself questions in the films “ Why do people have to grow up so fast?” I’ve been pals with Woody and Buzz and Bo, et al, since I was a senior in high school. And those who know my daughter know that she’s carried a Woody doll with her daily (every SINGLE day!) since she was two years old. ( She’ll be 8 next month.) So, it was quite hard for me to say goodbye to the Roundup Gang last Monday afternoon.

I was not the only wet eyed person…Abigail was in tears too. Her reason was simple. How on earth could Bonnie not treasure Woody anymore? It was bad enough when she left him on the floor of the closet. And then, replaced him with a SPORK!! But then, to not seem to care that he’s missing from the Gang!? To give his sheriff badge to Jessie?? And the hardest cut of all…to seemingly drive off and the end of the movie and not realize that Woody is not there. The message is clear. She’s over him. What made it all the more heartbreaking for my daughter was that, even at 7 years old, she understood that Woody loved Bonnie and would do anything for her. I was crying a bit before, but when Abby raised a tearstained face from my lap during the final few moments and said “ Why doesn’t Bonnie love Woody like he loves her? Why is Woody staying behind?” my tears flowed down my cheeks into her curls.

Abigail’s reaction was one that I expected. She could not relate to the idea of Bonnie outgrowing Woody, as she has not yet outgrown him. He was with us for the movie, clutched in her (not so) tiny fist. It was my reaction that almost knocked the wind out of me. Why on earth was I sobbing into movie theater napkins because Woody and Buzz parted ways? The depth of my tears surprised me; until I looked down and Abby and her Woody. Then, I knew.

I was crying for the future, for the day when I will find Woody on the floor of her closet, or tossed under her bed. For the day when he won’t be her longtime companion…when texting and Instagram and who knows what else will be her “go to” release when she’s joyful or frustrated or feeling sad. There is a day, in the not so distant future, when Woody will not be her bosom friend, her “cuddle buddy” as she calls him, or her constant companion. When that day comes, she’ll be fine. But, the question worth asking is “ How will I survive it?”

Growing up is a part of life, we as adults know this. Helping our children grow up is also a part of life; we as parents know this too. Knowing it is one thing…being fully ready for it is quite another. As we spend the summer with our children, be they toddlers or teens…we each know that there might be a milestone in store: a favorite toy abandoned, too tall for the kiddie rides at the boardwalk, a dorm room to decorate, a driver’s license to obtain. And, we know, it’s always harder on us to let our children “reach for the sky” than it is for them to do the reaching. We also know this- it’s the most important job we will ever have, to help them sail “to infinity and beyond”.  I will miss Toy Story, the Round Up gang and Woody most of all. He will always be in the forefront of my memory when I look back on my Abigail’s early years. As Woody says “ I can’t stop Andy from growing up, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” My readers…we can each insert our own child’s name here and just be glad that as time marches on, we don’t miss any of those spectacular (and sometimes sad) growing up moments!

The Fourth of July

This week, I think these long ago  words speak for themselves…

Let us remember those who long ago fought for our freedom.

Let us remember those who took a stand to change the world.

Let us reflect, let us truly be grateful for our Country, and let us pray for the souls of our founding fathers.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

SDA: A Future for Girls

Here we are, the last Monday in June and everyone’s little one is finished school for the year. The summer days stretch out ahead, like waves on the sand and whether our children are transitioning from kindergarten to first grade, elementary school to high school, rising to senior year, or heading off to college, right now the only thing on their minds is VACATION! Of course, they will open their books this summer, complete their summer tasks, read for pleasure, go to camps, go to workshops and continue to expand their knowledge base. However, I am certain that there will be more than a few days where our children sleep till after 10am, eat snacks all day instead of meals, and lounge around on the very furniture/rugs we are trying to clean. Those first lazy days of summer vacation are upon us as parents and we know it!

What we must never lose sight of, not even on those cloudless warm summer days is that the future is fast approaching. Two months off and then, boom, right back to the hustle and bustle- the gathering of knowledge, the shaping of our children into the young adults they will someday become. And that is why, no matter how young your daughter is, it is never too early to think about her educational future and the doors that Saint Dominic Academy can open for her.

Our school, open since 1878, has spent over a hundred and forty years preparing women for leadership in a global society. We’ve done it well; countless alumnae can attest to that fact. And we will continue to do it far into the future. Ten athletic teams, a world renowned choir, two dramatic performances yearly, 9 AP level classes, partnerships with Saint Peter’s University and Seton Hall University, and more college partnerships to come, electives spanning from Film to Forensic Science and teachers who truly bring both energy and expertise to our classrooms- Saint Dominic Academy “has it all” for the young women who pass through our halls.

Parents of daughters, whether they are 6 or 12…now is the time for you to take a closer look at Saint Dominic Academy and all we can offer your daughter. Reach out to our Enrollment Manager, Ms. Kristen Mallon with any questions or to visit Saint Dominic Academy.

It’s never too early to start planning for her future. And, at Saint Dominic Academy, the future is bold, is bright, and of course, the future is female!

Remarks to the 8th Grade

Last Friday, our 8th grade students celebrated their Moving Up Ceremony. As they transition to high school, I was invited to give them some advice on how to approach their future as young ladies. Today, I share with you the words I shared with them.

Good morning ladies and congratulations on your Moving Up Ceremony. Today marks a very monumental day in each of your lives, as you make that transition from middle school to high school. I am certain if you asked any of our seniors who graduated this past Sunday, they would tell you that the next four years will go by in the blink of an eye. It may seem to you that it took forever for you to reach high school, however, the older we get the faster times seems to move. So, treasure the next four years because they will pass by quickly.

You’ve heard me during the year offer advice; to the entire school, to the graduating seniors, and today I have some advice that is just for you. Let me begin by telling you a little bit about my favorite TV show. It’s not on anymore, but it ran on network TV from 1999-2006 and now, thanks to Netflix, etc, I can binge watch it whenever I feel the need to be inspired. My favorite TV show is Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing…which I am sure most of you are not familiar with, but perhaps some of your parents are. In reflecting on the advice I wanted to offer you today, two key phrases from that show really stood out to me and so, I will share them with you.

The premise of the show is a good one; White House Senior Staffers advising the president, the President faced with difficult decisions and the day to day running of both The White House and the country. President Bartlett, the fictional president on the show, is fond of asking his staff the following question many times throughout the series.

What’s Next? At times he means simply, what’s next for the day, and at times he means what comes next when he is faced with a difficult decision to make. I want each of you to take just a moment now to look toward September and think…what’s next? What is next for you as a student? What’s next for you as a friend? What’s next for you, within your own heart, as you grow as a person. All during your high school years, the pace may be frantic at times. You’ll have to make difficult decisions sometimes. What you can never do is just stop and shut down. You always have to be ready to ask yourself what’s next? and then move on to the next goal or challenge, whatever it may be. I ask myself that question every single day and it keeps me motivated.

The other piece of advice from the show I want to share with you is a very simple one. At times, throughout the series, someone will ask the President what he is thinking about. His answer is always the same…Tomorrow.

And today, on this very special occasion, that is what each of you should be thinking about as well. Not just the literal tomorrow; waking up to no school, no homework and a summer ahead of you, but of all the tomorrows that are yet to come in your life. Look forward always and think about what the future may hold for you. Be ready to greet each and every day with the mindset that tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. Imagine what you can accomplish in a lifetime of tomorrows. And let that be your motivation to succeed every single day.

Two short phrases; that is my gift to you today. Ladies, whether I will see you in September or your future is outside of Saint Dominic Academy, I hope you remember always to ask yourselves What’s Next? and to always, always, focus on Tomorrow.

Congratulations and God bless each of you.

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