Seniors are Disney Bounding…

This Thursday, most of the members of the Class of 2019 will board a plane headed for Orlando. Their destination- Disneyworld, for four days of Senior Trip fun. Traveling with them are six chaperones (myself included, which should come as no surprise!) who are just as, if not more excited than the young ladies themselves. Whether those traveling are seasoned Park pros (this is my 10th visit!) or Disney newbies just “earning their ears” ( Mr. Currie, Ms. Armea!), we have planned excursions into Magic Kingdom, EPCOT during Flower and Garden Festival, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs that will delight and fill everyone’s hearts with awe.

I am certain that more than a few of our young ladies will participate in the latest trend to hit the parks. As defined by the Huffington Post: For the uninitiated, Disneybounding is a subtler, more fashion-forward way for fans to show their love for Disney. Instead of wearing full-on costumes as cosplayers do, Disneybounders dress up in stylish, everyday outfits (known as Disneybounds) that are simply inspired by a particular character. Before you even ask, it is more than possible that I have already picked up a few Disneybounding outfits for myself and perhaps will share some photos in a future blog. My daughter, at age 7 is a total Disneybounder, but she takes it one step further most times, and become a Disney cosplayer as well. If any of our seniors take part in that, I will share some photos for sure. Keep your eyes on our Instagram and Twitter pages from March 28- April 1st to see all the fun we are having in “the most magical place on earth.”

However, as I prepare to take our students on this wonderful senior trip, it did occur to me that even while on vacation, in a place like Disney World there are lessons to be learned everywhere. One can hardly look at the beauty of these parks, the talent it takes to keep them functioning day in and day out 365 days per year, and the sheer amount of development and planning that goes into creating the overall Disney experience without absorbing some of the most important lessons to come out of Walt Disney Studios. And so, before we go, the teacher in me would like to offer a bit of a “refresher course” for all the young at heart and share some of the wisdom we learn from Disney’s creative films and experiences.

Just Keep Swimming- Finding Nemo

Always let your conscience be your guide- Pinocchio

If you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish, will come true. – Cinderella

The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up- Dumbo

You’re only a fool if you give up- Aladdin

Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one. – Pocahontas

The only way to get what you want is through hard work.- The Princess and the Frog

Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours- Frozen

Our fate lies within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it. – BraveAnd perhaps, the most inspirational lesson of all, from the mouth of Walt Disney himself…All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Women Of Mystery…

Some of my nearest and dearest are devoted mystery fans…mysteries of different generations. I too, have enjoyed detective shows on television since I was very young. And if you search the Amazon Prime history on my television, you’ll usually find the following three shows listed almost daily: Scooby Doo, Perry Mason, Remington Steele. Different generations, different formats, different people sitting next to me while they are on, but mysteries all. And lately, all this mystery watching has made me reflect…on just how truly important of a role women play in these types of shows.

Take that groovy cartoon Scooby Doo, for example. Let us discount Daphne as a caricature of every damsel in distress; instead of introducing a new female each week, they just drew her in. However, if one watches enough of the “gang” and trust me, I have over the years, then it becomes apparent that it is usually Velma, not Fred who is meticulous about gathering the information, observing the situation, and solving the mystery at hand. He, more often than not, makes the declaration and rips the mask off revealing the villain underneath (and boy is there anything more amusing then that in each episode? It’s as if their entire head lifts off and reveals another one!) but without Velma’s help, he’d be almost as clueless and Shaggy and Scooby. Yes, Fred Jones might be the spokesperson for the “gang” but there’s no doubt that Velma is the brains behind the operation.

My personal favorite detective is none other than (pre-James Bond, Pierce Brosnon) Remington Steele. I watched at my mother’s knee when I was a little girl and am delighted to have re-discovered it on my Amazon Prime! Here, they don’t even attempt to hide the fact that Laura Holt is the brains behind the operation…as she said in the cold open intro every week “ I do the work, he takes the bows.” Of course, as their partnership and the series progressed, it became more of a give and take between them and he became essential to almost every case they were hired to solve. By the time the series concluded, they were equals, partners and each provided the other with backup and support when necessary. It went over my head as a youngster, but watching now, it is interesting to see how they advanced that storyline over the course of five years. It went from a man taking the credit for a woman’s hard work, to a man and woman learning to work collaboratively to get the job done.

You might think that the collaborative model in crime TV is a relatively new one, but in fact, it’s been around way longer than the two shows I just discussed. The timeless classic Perry Mason (which I somewhat unwillingly discovered, but now am quite fond of), has had the perfect example of that partnership since it premiered in 1957. Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale were the perfect professional couple on television. You never saw Perry at his desk or seated in the courtroom without Della at his side. And yet, it was rare to see her opening mail, bringing him coffee, or acting like his staff member…rather she was in on all the meetings right from the start, was always in court, and carried an air of “no-nonsense” about her daily. It’s interesting to note that there was none of this “will they or won’t they” drama surrounding this duo, Della was there to work and work she did; often serving as Perry’s sounding board to flesh out his theories.

And what’s my point, you might be wondering right now? It’s simply this; the concept of men and women working together as equals is not exactly a new concept. It’s been watered down and become murky, but it has existed since televisions only came in black and white floor models. Sometimes, the best way to change the way we view something in society is to go back and look at the original model. And, in the genre of TV detective, the model was quite ahead for its time; an essential female character who was not the love interest, the meek sidekick or the femme fatale…but who could hold her own against the titular character of the show.

Now, I have no trouble with Abigail watching Scooby Doo. In fact, when she is older, I am sure I’ll be introducing her to Mr. Steele as well. ( She’s met Mr. Mason…she’s not a fan!) Do I think that because of the role Velma and Laura play on the shows that she’ll perceive that women are not equal to men, that their role is secondary, that the man should get the credit for a woman’s hard work? No, of course not. I think, even at 7 ½, she can see the tropes in this television stereotype and even at this young of an age can recognize the brains behind the operation in a classic cartoon. However, I make certain I point it out to her as well, and remind her that as she gets older, her goal should be to be the voice of reason, the leader, and never ever the follower of another, be it a man or a woman.

The same message is sent out daily within the halls of 2572 Kennedy Boulevard. Since 1878, Saint Dominic Academy has been working hard to dissuade young ladies of the notion that the roles they play in the world are secondary ones. Long before Della assisted Perry, the Caldwell Dominicans tried to instill in young women a sense of equality; often working against the stereotypical norms of society at any given time. While we’ve come far and progressed in leaps and bounds when it comes to women’s equality issues, let us never forget for a moment that from 1878 onward, Saint Dominic Academy was putting women in the spotlight, not as sidekicks but as leaders.

Get Your Irish On…

This past weekend, one week before Saint Patrick’s Day, Jersey City celebrated – hosting a Saint Patrick’s Day Award Dinner and Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. This long standing Jersey City tradition was made extra special for all of us at Saint Dominic Academy this year, as sophomore Megan Dunne was named Miss Colleen. Megan, a 10th grade Honors student at SDA, also plays varsity soccer, basketball and runs outdoor track. She was recently named to First Team All County Soccer and was one of the top 75 Freshman Soccer Players in the State of NJ last year. NJ.com featured her this year as Player of the Week for soccer as well. Megan, who works diligently both in her classes and on the playing field, also shares her voice with Saint Dominic Academy, singing as a Domino in our world renowned Glee Club.

On Sunday, Megan was joined on her float by members of the Glee Club/Dominoes and the SDA Soccer team as we celebrated this honor and recognition for one of our most talented young ladies. Her duties as Miss Colleen did not end when the parade route reached Journal Square; Megan will participate in the Detective Michael SASniago JCPD Memorial Walk Wreath Laying and the JCPD Detective Marc A. DiNardo One Block Parade later in March.

Megan’s Saint Dominic Academy family is proud of this outstanding achievement and we ask all of our alumnae and friends to pray for Megan this month, as she serves as Jersey City’s Miss Colleen. May all of your March days be filled with laughter, love and a twinkle of Irish charm! Remember…everyone’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day!

Ash Wednesday Reflections…

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the start of our Lenten Season. It marks the first of forty days, where we dedicate ourselves to prayer and reflection. As we ready our hearts and souls for the celebration of Easter in April, let us start our Lenten season by committing ourselves to re-focus and reflect on the truths in our lives. It is important that we dedicate a daily portion of this 40 day period to self examination, contemplation and reflection on God’s grace and His infinite mercy and to how we can reach out to those in need of comfort and hope and be for them, a Christ like image in their lives.

As March enters in like a lion- winds blowing, cold temperatures, still full of grey winter skies, barren trees, and frost covered ground, so too do our hearts and minds still carry that “winter weight”, holding us down, causing us at times to shrug our shoulders against the obstacles in our own little worlds, instead of reaching out to embrace change and grow to become better persons. The month of March truly reflects the changes that should take place within our hearts during the Lenten season; for as we reflect on God’s grace, our spirits should become less burdened, less weighted down and instead begin to fill with light, joy and hope as Easter draws closer. So too does our environment change, the light grows softer, the breezes grow warmer, and suddenly on one April day, we see the winter world transformed…into the beauty that is spring.

Allow your soul to change and lighten with the change of seasons. Today and tomorrow, prepare for Ash Wednesday by meditating and reflecting on the questions below. Prepare your heart to shed its winter weight this Lenten season and be open and ready to accept the miracle of Easter that God will send to us all on a beautiful April Sunday.

Ash Wednesday Reflection

For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink… Psalm 102:9

What personal sorrows haunt you, bringing you to pain and tears? As you reflect on your sorrows during this Lenten season, may you sense compassion growing inside you…a compassion for the sorrows of others.

As Lent begins, may my heart turn to you, O God.

May my repentance be truthful and sincere.

May my heart and mind become open to your guidance and grace.

May Your love guide me on this forty day journey and may I find joy

within my soul as the dawn rises on Easter.

Amen