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.

Valedictorian Speech 2019

This week, I share with you the remarks from the Valedictorian of the Class of 2019- Miss Hannah Dobronsky.

Good afternoon Ms. Degnan, Mrs. Farrales, Sister Mary Lou, Ms. McLean, faculty, families, friends, and the beautiful class of 2019. I want to start by saying thank you to all of our guests for taking time to celebrate this special occasion with us and by reflecting on the magnitude of this ceremony.

Graduating from high school can mean something different for everyone.

It can be a time of great change as we pursue the next chapter of our lives.

It can signify that we are one step closer to finally turning our passion into a career. It can symbolize our hard work that we have accomplished these past four years. While each of these points is true of any high school graduation, graduating from Saint Dominic Academy means a little bit more. Most importantly, it means that we are prepared and empowered to take on any challenge that comes our way. I have had the privilege of knowing all of the incredible young ladies being celebrated tonight, and I can confidently say that each one has everything she needs to excel in the next era of her life. You all have become like sisters to me in every sense of the word; I know that each of you has the courage to get back up after a setback, as well as the character to help another who has been knocked down. I have seen unmatched resilience, creativity, intelligence, passion, and drive demonstrated time and time again by each and every one of you.

Not only have you taught me so much about what it means to be a strong woman, but all of you have constantly inspired me to be the best version of myself. This is the kind of class that can get through anything life throws at them. From arts to sciences, finance to communications, and in any other field we are going into, each of you is amazingly talented. I cannot wait to see the great impact you all will make on the world, and the success that is a sure part of our future. I will end by saying something that I think everyone needs to hear sometimes. There are many things that must be considered when you come to a crossroads and are faced with a tough decision. The best decision will always be the one that makes you happy.

It might take a long time to figure out what path satisfies this happiness, but each and every one of you deserves to follow your heart. It may not always be the easiest choice to make, but remember that you can always count on these sisters of yours to help you with anything, no matter how many miles away. I am so grateful to have known each of you these past few years, and today is not an end, but a beautiful beginning. Congratulations to the extraordinary class of 2019. Thank you.

Graduation Remarks 2019

Congratulations to the Saint Dominic Academy Class of 2019! Today, I want to share with you my remarks from yesterday’s graduation ceremony.

Good afternoon, everyone. My dear seniors, this is the last time that I will stand before you and be able to offer you advice, insight and “wisdom”, although I am not always sure how wise I truly am. What I can tell you, is when I look out at you, I see my own little girl, ten years from now. And so, I did some reading and some reflecting on what advice I will someday give to her, as she heads out into the world. I am certain all of your mothers and fathers have given you valuable advice and life lessons that you will carry with you always. Now, if you will indulge me for just a few moments…here are some life lessons I learned as a young woman, and as your “school mom”, I’d like to share them with you.

Spend the money on the dress you love. Your OWN money, not your parents money. There will be a day where you find the dress of your dreams..the one that when you put it on, it makes you smile. And then…you’ll look at the price tag and put it back on the rack. Pick it up again- spend the money, treat yourself. Because when you feel you look your best, that’s the moment when your inner beauty shines through.

Never miss an opportunity to tell someone how you feel. If you love someone, tell them. Even if they don’t say it back, and at times they won’t…you will always regret not telling someone you love them.

Your words carry tremendous weight, choose them wisely. At all times, in every situation. We all lose our tempers and say things we regret. Imagine how much happier the world would be if we stopped before those regretful words came out of our mouths, thought about them for a moment, and then bit them back.

If you know the answer, raise your hand. In the college classroom, as a parent someday at a PTA meeting, in a work meeting. ( Ok maybe don’t raise your hand, but speak up!) Share your knowledge, let people know how intelligent you are. Never be afraid to be right.

Karma is real. Don’t be a mean girl. Yes, yes, the movie is funny, I’ll admit it. But really, who wants to go through life like Regina George and her Plastics? I know you all- NONE of you are mean girls. Don’t let anything you face in life turn you into a mean girl!

Use sunscreen. It sounds silly right now, I know. But I am looking out for your future- and the last thing you want is a call from your doctor about skin cancer…take a moment to spray on that sunscreen and take care of the beautiful skin that you have.

Listen to your gut, even when it disagrees with your head and your heart. Instinct is a powerful thing; almost every creature on the planet with the exception of humans act on instinct. If you feel something is not right for you, listen to that feeling. Just make sure you know the difference between instinct and impulse!

Know the difference between a disagreement and an argument. Try your best not to have either, but a disagreement does not always have to be personal; you can have a professional disagreement with a classmate, a colleague, a family member, but not hurt their feelings. In arguments feelings are always hurt and we always say things we regret.

Eat the cake. This is advice I have to follow myself. Be happy with who you are, enjoy the things in life that make you happy. Don’t worry about calories or fat or things like that every day for the rest of your life. Cake, in moderation, is meant to be enjoyed!

Always carry an extra hair-tie. Or else, rock a short haircut! You can see what I have chosen…so either keep an emergency supply somewhere, or you’ll one day be me saying “I’ve got to do something with this hair always hanging in my face!”

Friday nights are for takeout. Sometimes Tuesdays are, too. And this becomes perhaps the best advice I can offer you, especially as you get older. Nobody expects you to do it all…work, dinner, homework, etc. Splurge a little once or twice a week and order in and binge watch an entertaining show. It will do so much to keep you centered and focused for the other 5 days!

Ask for help when you need it. You’re an independent woman, not a superhero. Call your mom, your dad, your friends…come back to SDA and say “Can you help me with.____?” As I just said, not one of us can do it all, not you, not I. There are days when, if my friends could not help me out a little, I’d be lost. You’ll have those days too…so never be too proud to ask for assistance.

Love yourself. The people in this room right now love you very much. That’s why they are here celebrating this day. You will meet others in life who love you very much. And someday, I hope each of you meets the one true love of your life. Alas, all of that love that is focused on you will never truly touch your soul, unless you first truly love yourself.

And that is it…the end of my list, the end of my time as your Head of School…but we know well that this sisterhood at SDA has existed for 140 years and so today is not an ending…it’s the beginning of your future as proud alumnae of Saint Dominic Academy. I am so very lucky and proud to have shared this journey with you. I wish each of you the best of luck, and I am always here if you need anything.

Congratulations ladies!