A Prayer for Spring

This week, with Saint Patrick’s Day just behind us, the calendar tells us that Spring begins on March 20th.  It may seem as if winter has been here for more than a few months; in my own mind and heart, I feel it has been cold and wintery since October.  And although the weather this week may not bring the sunshine and warmth of spring, our calendars tell us it is on its way. Our hearts should tell us to hold out hope; this week as we anticipate spring, next week as we head into Holy Week, and that beautiful April morning where we celebrate Easter. I invite you to pray with me and with Saint Dominic Academy every Monday for the next three weeks, in delightful anticipation of God’s gift of spring to each and every one of us.


Loving God,

Springtime truly is a gift from You.

It brings Your message of hope

to a world tiring of winter’s starkness.

It brings the gift of flowers, breaking through the snow

And reminds us that each spring, new life is upon us all.

It is in this season that we recall the sacrifice You made for us all

The gift of Your Son

to break through sin’s icy blanket,

and, with arms outstretched

on a cross,

He brought us

hope, light and new life.


Congrats to all of our girls and our alumnae coaches! These young ladies worked tirelessly all year and once again have earned a National Championship Title! For the past three years they have brought home top honors for SDA and this week I want to use this Blog to congratulate the young ladies, their coaches, and their parents! You have made us all so very proud!

Coaches: Marie Pompeo Maffia ’79, Amanda Herring’06, Taylor Siebel ’14
Team Members: Seniors Sophia Feijoo and Emily Gill
Sophomores: Mallory Geisler and Kayla Stewart
Freshmen: Olivia Aidukas, Chloe Butler, Nastasja Gunnings and Avery Sullivan
8th Grade: Aisha Adeboye

This One’s For the Moms…

Lately, I feel like my life is one big game of catch up. No matter how much effort I make, either the bed is not made, the laundry has to be re-washed because I forgot and left it sitting, the floor I thought I just vacuumed is covered in crumbs, my plans for a homemade dinner transform into visiting the Wendy’s drive-through…and my shelves are collecting dust. It’s when I take time to think about it that I become overwhelmed. In addition to my “house work” there are read -alouds and homework and Girl Scouts and Ballet and Theater Group; I am not just a busy mom, I am the busy mom of a very busy little girl. Usually, the balance of all of this plus that important role I play over at 2572 Kennedy Boulevard is one that I manage with relative ease. But, these past few weeks…I do not mind stating that I am wiped out.

So, mothers of high school daughters, help me out here. Your daughters are even busier than mine, many of your families are larger than mine, your jobs are as important as mine. I guess my question is…should I feel guilty or are your houses as harried and disorganized as mine feels right now!? All jokes aside, I know that we as mothers have to reach a point where we are comfortable with “letting go.” By that I mean, letting the small things go;  it’s ok for me to leave my coffee cup in the sink over night, if it means I can do Abigail’s read – aloud with her. It’s ok if I have to fold two loads of rather large laundry once a week rather than perfect little loads every night. It’s even ok if every once in a while I leave with the bed unmade ( although I have to admit it drives me nuts the entire day!)

In talking with my friends, I realize I am not the only mom who feels this way- stay at home or working, there truly never are enough hours in the day for us to take care of everyone else and really give ourselves some much needed care too. And so, this week, since this feeling of being overtaken by my hectic life is on my mind, I wanted to share it in case any of our SDA moms were feeling the same way. And I wanted to put these feelings out there so all of us moms realize that when we feel wiped out, perhaps it means we are doing a wonderful job. When we are a bit overwhelmed, it’s because we give so much love to those around us. When we notice that imperfect couch cushion, or speck of dust or unsigned letter on our desk at the office, instead of beating ourselves up, we should give ourselves a pat on the back for all that each of us has accomplished on a given day. From sun up to sun down, we work hard, we are excellent role models for our daughters and it’s ok for us to be tired, as long as we are proud as well!

And if that doesn’t cheer you when you are feeling bogged down…then let me share with you one important quote that always makes me feel so much better about my role as a mom.  Hope it makes you laugh…and remember…it’s true!

Statement from Dominican Sisters

We at Saint Dominic Academy share the following statement from our Dominican Sisters and ask once again for your prayers for the children of SDA and for children all over the world affected by gun violence.



May the light of God surround you…

May the love of God enfold you…

May the power of God protect you…

May God place His hands upon you…

May the presence of God watch over you…

Wherever you are, God is.


Our Prayers Go Out…

I remember Columbine…I remember Virginia Tech…I remember Sandy Hook. I remember the others, too numerous to name. My heart is heavy, as is the heart of every parent, every educator and everyone who has been too close to a tragic incident such as the one that occurred last Wednesday in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Today, I ask for your prayers as Saint Dominic Academy continues to pray for those in Florida who are mourning the loss of 17 young lives due to senseless violence.  Together, let us as for God’s grace and turn our heavy hearts to His wisdom for comfort.

And so we pray for our children and for all children…


May the light of God surround you…

May the love of God enfold you…

May the power of God protect you…

May God place His hands upon you…

May the presence of God watch over you…

Wherever you are, God is.


Blind Dates…

And here we are; the week leading up to Valentine’s Day!  Love is in the air, with pink and red satin hearts on display in every store I enter (and they’ve been out since December 26th, am I right?), my inboxes jammed with offers from Pro Flowers, Shari’s Berries and any other floral/candy company I have ever purchased anything from, and Party City wants to help me have a “LOVE-LY” day! NJ Monthly Magazine is giving me tips on the best date plans for Valentines’ Day and NJ Family Magazine is advising me of all the ways to make the day wonderful and magical for my Abigail. I’ve received emails about wine and chocolate pairings, bonfires and brew nights, whiskey and candy flights- I even got a list of how to pair Girl Scout cookies with wine for a Valentine’s Day celebration.

What do I want to say to all of these well intentioned (sarcasm, much?) advertisers regarding this over abundance of sweet suggestions?  Well, February 14th is a Wednesday night, the start of Lent, and, let us not forget…A SCHOOL NIGHT!  So, unless Abigail’s teacher is waving the weekly 12 spelling sentences that are assigned each Wednesday, I pretty much know what I’ll be doing on February 14th, and I am doubting it’s going to involve whiskey. (Although, those spelling words are getting harder…) All jokes aside, I do appreciate all the extra love in the world on 2/14 each year, I helped Abby make homemade cards for her class, I made sure to send my nieces and nephew a little something, and I have a Hocus Pocus fleece throw and a Porg from The Last Jedi all wrapped in red to give to my little sweetheart on Valentine’s morning. (Abby loves Star Wars and Halloween, so she will truly love her gifts!)

Working in an all girls school and having attended an all girls school however does make me sensitive to those young ladies who many not be receiving candy or roses on this particular day.  And so, this year, I have come up with a solution for my Siena Honors English class…in order to ENSURE that each of them has a date on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, this teacher/Head of School will be bringing 14 dates to English class that morning, so each young lady can choose who she wants to go on a blind date with that evening.

Parents, don’t pick up the phone yet to call my office and ask if I have lost my mind from eating too much candy.  My students are going on a Blind Date With A Book  from February 14th to February 28th. A Blind Date with a Book is a hand wrapped book, carefully curated from a wide range of popular genres that is tagged with intriguing clues alluding to the book inside. I along with my partner in arranging blind dates (my mom, a former English teacher and principal herself), have selected 14 works that we truly hope the young ladies will read and enjoy.   

For the duration of the assignment, students will be reading and writing reflections with headings such as “First Impressions”,  “ Appetizers”  “The Main Course” and “Would You Go Out Again” (meaning, would you read another book by the author?) Then, the students will carefully repackage their “dates” and gift another SDA lady with a Blind Date With A Book. This Valentine’s Day, my 9th graders and I are going to work to spread the love…of reading that is!

And parents, if you’re looking to get involved, check out this amazing website, https://blinddatewithabook.com/pages/about-us.  I may just have plans on Valentine’s Day after all…I wonder if they deliver to my Kindle!


A few weeks ago, I took Abigail to Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight. We have been there more than a few times, but this time when I checked in, I got a huge surprise. We had been selected for a complimentary upgrade, to the largest suite in the resort. Two bedrooms, a hot tub, a fireplace, a living room- it was wonderful and the extra space was especially great since I had my cousin and her two little daughters with me. The five of us really enjoyed an upscale girls weekend as a result of this unexpected upgrade.

While I was driving home, I started thinking about upgrades and how when they come unexpectedly, really do make the day or the weekend that much more happy and exciting. This is only the 2nd upgrade I have gotten in my life. (The first was when Abby and I got moved to First Class on a flight to…where else? Disney. However, flying First Class with a 3 year old is pretty much the same as flying coach…except they have more room to squirm!) And yet, I raved about this hotel suite the entire rest of the weekend- it truly made my day. The more I started thinking about upgrades and the joys they bring to people’s days, it made me realize that the entire Saint Dominic Academy experience is a daily upgrade for every student who comes through the doors.

The opportunities we offer daily; small class sizes, nine athletic teams, a glee club that is comprised of a 1/3 of the school, musical and dramatic performances, 8 AP classes, a four year STEM program from grades 7-10, are wonderful upgrades that our students may not have the opportunity to experience at other schools.  And then, our special perks, which include trips to Europe, performing for the Pope and at Carnegie Hall, Trip Day, Disney YES Experience, Saturday Seminars, the Dartmouth Invitational, the Disney Invitational, a nationally ranked Dance Team, Siena Honors workshops, overnight and day retreats, individual trips for classes and grades, 3 formal dances, Domination…the list can go on and on. Talk about upgrades- when you become a student at SDA, you learn far more than just what is in between the pages of textbooks. You are constantly being exposed to new opportunities, new ideas, and varied experiences that not only enhance your high school life, but influence your future as well.

It is my hope that every young lady at Saint Dominic Academy truly takes full advantage of all the upgrades and perks we offer in conjunction with our stellar academic program. There is no doubt in my mind that we are the premier school for young women; have been since 1878 and will be far into the future!

Reflections From the Father Daughter Dance

This past Friday night, I had the chance to speak with the young ladies of Saint Dominic Academy and their fathers at our annual Father Daughter Dance.  It is one of my favorite events at SDA, because I get to bring a date- my father, Joseph Degnan.   He and I are always so happy to attend; to have a chance to have some time to spend together as father and daughter.  

At the start of the evening, I was given the chance to talk for a few minutes and I shared with the guests few brief snippets of my adult life with my dad. Every morning, from Monday to Friday, I hear the beep of my text messaging at 6:50am.  It’s my father; telling me the weather ( it’s icy, it’s breezy, it’s warm). This is not because I don’t have windows in my home, it’s because he tries to help me prepare for my day. Sometimes, when I come outside in the winter, my car is warmed up for me.  When I work late, he waits by his window (my parents live across the street) and walks me to the door so I am safe.

He checks my smoke detector batteries. Every Monday night, he beats me to taking out recycling and every Tuesday he beats me to taking out garbage. He put up my Christmas tree! If I put laundry in my washing machine in the am, by the time I get home from work it’s in the dryer. He reminds me to do my taxes. He reminds me to get my oil changed; in fact he takes the car for me to get it done.

Just a few weeks ago, I had to buy a car- I took care of it on my own, except of course he came to the dealership to make sure it was a good car before I took it off the lot. In the summer, I got a chance to buy Hamilton tickets while I was away on vacation. He lent me his credit card to snatch them up. (Of course, I paid him back ASAP! Cannot wait to go with Abby in August!) He drives Abby to school, he picks her up, and he never forgets to have her beloved Woody doll in the car!

This is life with my dad- a life full of daily and weekly support that I have to honestly admit unless I stop to think about it, I may take for granted at times.

And I said to the young women the night of the dance…We all take it for granted ladies, because our fathers have been supporting us since the moment we took our first breath in the world. They are our quiet care takers, the ones that help us grow up to be strong women.

For me, I would be lost without my dad’s daily presence in my life. He is the backbone that allows me to be the woman I am; the woman I hope inspires many of the young ladies I see every day at Saint Dominic Academy.  My father is truly a wonderful man .  And your fathers are truly wonderful m en.   They support you in a million different ways every single day- in ways you probably never even notice. I want to thank every father and father figure for all of the support you give these young women every single day.  And I want to thank my father for all he has done for me and for all he continues to do for me every day.

We are lucky women to be supported by such wonderful men!

iFriend or iFoe?

When I turned sixteen (many many years ago), I finally got my coveted phone!  It was black, the keys lit up green, and it was all mine!  Connected to the jack in my room, which my uncle installed,  it’s long black cord stretched all over my bedroom, allowing me to talk as I did homework at my desk, sat on my bed, or listened to music by the stereo. That phone and I were attached at the ear most nights from 7pm onward, much to the annoyance, I am sure of my parents.  I talked to friends, I talked to boys (from Prep of course), and then talked to my friends about what the boys said on the phone. The only time I pried my treasured black receiver away from my ear would be in the wee hours when one of my parents, awakening for one reason or another in the night, would pick up the upstairs phone and say “Sarah, hang up the phone NOW!” Some evenings, they had to do that three or four times before I finally gave in and went to sleep.

Flash forward to today, where I rarely talk on the phone for any personal reasons; perhaps I use my iPhone to set up a doctor’s appointment, to call Abigail out of school when she is sick, or to talk to my mom (Keep Calm and Call Mom…that’s always been my motto!)  More often than not, I text my family, my friends and even my dad and I would say the majority of time I spend actually talking on a phone is at my desk at work.  My landline at home has gone the way of the dinosaur, as have many of yours, I am sure, and the play phone that came with Abigail’s toy kitchen a few years ago, was a toy cell phone.

Most of you, I am sure, have guessed where I am headed with this; back when I was a teen and today, kids do spend a lot of time on the phone. The difference is in how that communication has changed in the past thirty plus years.  Recently, JANA Partners and CALSTRS sent an open letter to Apple INC, expressing concerns about iPhone and iPad use with children and teens. While they do recognize that using the devices do have some benefits, perhaps in schools and classroom settings, some of the information about extended use and higher rates of depression and suicide are quite alarming.  The letter stated that most children receive their first phone by age 10; so I have a few short years before this becomes my issue. For many of my readers, the concern is already yours, I am sure. How much tech time is too much?

In my house, it’s a half hour of iPad videos or games before bed on school nights; with internet locks on. On weekends, it might stretch to an hour. Now, she can use her iPad for learning games, for watching a movie, or for listening to music at other times, but I do try to limit the YouTube kids, Disney kids, etc to ½ hour a day.  Of course, that would not work in your houses.  But I think all of us, as parents, have to think about what would work? How do we limit screen time? What are the lasting effects of too much technology use?  

I encourage you today to take a few moments to read the Open Letter, of which the link is below and to talk to your daughter about what it says.  And if you make any headway, send me your tips before Abigail turns ten; I know I will need them!


How to Beat the Winter Blues

Cold weather, icy streets, grey snow piled up on sidewalks, slushy puddles, early sunsets – and even GROUNDHOG DAY is still a month away.  I am not certain about all of my readers, but from what I have observed here at SDA over the early days of January, it seems to me that many of our young ladies, and perhaps even some of our dedicated faculty, staff and administration are suffering from a case of the “Winter Blues.”

There’s no CURE for winter- we live in a region that experiences all four seasons and although each of them have their ups and downs, for me, no season is drearier than the time between New Year’s Day and the advent of Spring. Even snow days bring no real excitement, because I have no desire to either build a snowman or shovel snow.  For me, a perfect winter would begin with a light dusting of snow on Thanksgiving, sprinkle some beautiful flakes in purple twilight during the Advent season, gift us with a fluffy white Christmas, and then pack it in on New Year’s Eve!  Alas, since I do not live in Camelot where “winter is forbidden till December…” I, along with all of my fellow winter haters, have to suffer though these cold grey days before spring comes once again.

As an educator, and also as a parent, I am aware of the effects that weather can have on student performance and overall physical and mental health.  This is a tough time of year for many of our young ladies; sitting for midterm exams, waiting for college acceptances and financial aid awards, and just not being able to get out in the fresh air as often as they might like all add to the stress they already carry daily.  I did some reading online over the past few weeks, and found an excellent post from one Ms. Darcy Lawton, a LCSW who works in Battery Park City, NY.   This post on her site shared her six tips for beating the winter blues.  As I read it, I found myself embracing some of the ideas she put forth.

Today, I want to share the link with you and it is my hope that parents, SDA students, and even SDA alumnae find some helpful advice if any of you are struggling with the winter winds. I know I am, and I know this article helped me!


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