Find Happiness…

Happy Fall! We are a month into what will truly be a wonderful 140th Anniversary Year at Saint Dominic Academy! This year, as we prepare to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the school, the 20th anniversary of our Leadership Gala and most special to our faculty, the 40th anniversary of Mr. Joe Napoli’s dedication to education here at SDA, I wanted our theme for the school year to embrace the idea that work should not only be a place where we are productive and content, but a place where we come together with teachers and students, parents and administrators and find ourselves, at different moments on varying days, being truly happy.

I recognize that there are some days here at SDA where it is very easy for us to come together and be truly happy as a team—December 14, when we break for Christmas is one of those days for certain, this year the culmination of our Middle States Visit on October 18th will be another one for sure. However, what about all the other days…the rainy Mondays, the snowy Thursday afternoons, the randomly hot and humid day in early May where we each long to be at the beach instead of the blackboard? How can I, as Head of School and each of you as loyal members of the Saint Dominic Academy community work to find happiness on those tough days?

The answer is simple, it’s sweet, and of course knowing me it should come as no surprise that it comes from a Disney film. Our theme for this year, one that I ask you to embrace with your heart, mind and soul is

 

You must find happiness where you are! ~ Moana

 

And so, I challenge each of you to, once a week, jot down a pink thought filled with happiness…. Each one of us has chosen to spend the upcoming school year together, with each other at Saint Dominic Academy. And so, let us go into the school year finding the happiness that comes from that choice, the happiness that comes from knowing we are shaping the future for young women, and the happiness that lights up within each of us as we work together to make our school the best place it can possibly be.

Labor Day Prayers…For All

As we at Saint Dominic Academy prepare to open wide our doors and welcome back the young women in grades 7 through 12 for another year of learning, service, friendship and commitment to God, I ask that all who are a part of the SDA community take a moment to join me in prayer.  Reflect quietly on the men and women who have committed themselves to the ideals of Saint Dominic Academy, who labor here each day, tirelessly working to shape the lives of young women who will one day change our future world for the better. Please lift your voices and hearts in prayer for the Board of Trustees, Administration, Faculty, Staff, Parent Association and Alumnae Association members, without all of whom, Saint Dominic Academy would not be able to continue to grow, thrive and accomplish great things. For all of these people, who take one more day of rest today before returning to do God’s work for another  year, let us pray…

 

Bless, O God, all who labor.

Whether they are compensated by paycheck, prayer, or pride, let them know their true worth in your eyes.

May all at Saint Dominic Academy b e gifted with a sense of service to the common good and graced with the satisfaction of a job well done.

We thank you for all who chose to belong to the workforce at Saint Dominic Academy;

Their work provides education, protection, comfort, healing, kindness and relief.

They work tirelessly for your goodness and glory, O God.

Send your light to shine upon them always.

Amen

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.

Lessons from the Elves…

Last weekend, my niece, (the daughter of an SDA graduate!) was in a production of ELF Junior in Toms River, NJ. Abigail is a huge fan of ELF and so we were happy to see Ellie in the production- she did an outstanding job! Of course, after watching the musical, the movie was on a non-stop loop on the TV in my house and has been on frequently all season long.  It makes me laugh, but as with most movies, after a while I tune it out.  

And then, it struck me- some of the most important lessons of Christmas come from holiday classics that we are so used to seeing, we forget the important messages that they impart upon children for generations to come !

So indulge me if you will in some holiday cheer. At just one week before Christmas, let us review some of these classic Christmas messages to truly get into the spirit of the season!

From ELFThe best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! & There’s room for everyone on the NICE list!

From Home AloneThis is Christmas, the season of perpetual hope!

From How The Grinch Stole Christmas Maybe…Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas is a little bit more.

From The Polar ExpressSeeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see. & There’s no greater gift than friendship.

From Miracle on 34th Street Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to!

From It’s a Wonderful LifeEvery time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!

From A Christmas Carol God bless us, everyone!

And with these words of wisdom in our hearts and minds, let us enter into those final days before Christmas, looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. Remember always, the true spirit of Christmas lies within your heart.

Deck The (SDA) Halls!

December is upon us at last! For many of us, it is truly the most magical and wonderful time of year and no matter how many late nights of wrapping or afternoons of baking we have, the joy of the holiday season makes every Christmas chore seem merry and fun.  From sun up till  moonrise, all month long, I have no doubt that many of you will be as busy as Santa’s elves- with shopping, wrapping, exchanging, and all that comes with the joy of the season.

At Saint Dominic Academy this December, every so often I need to peek out my office door and make certain our young ladies are not elves themselves!  Fresh from their fall production of The Sound of Music; many of our most talented voices are singing at Tree Lightings, Holiday parties, and of course at our very own Christmas Concert  on December 10th. The Glee Club and Dominoes are busily spreading Christmas cheer, not only within SDA, but within the entire Hudson County community.

Our athletes are involved in a bit of hustle and bustle as well; basketball and indoor track have practices, games and meets that last into the wee hours, when houses are lamplit and there is frost in the air heading home.  Never growing tired, these dedicated young women are committed to their studies as well as their teams and bring pride to SDA, not only in December, but all  year long.

Our Peer Ministers are preparing for our Christmas Liturgy, Dominican Youth in Action is sponsoring a Giving Tree, French, Spanish and Asian Interest clubs are planning Christmas parties for the school, Student Council raised enough funds to buy 15 coats for children, and the Class of 2018 is hard at work on their Christmas play.  And the fun doesn’t end with the students; faculty and staff are making ornaments for their prayer partners and our Alumnae Association is hosting an Alumnae Christmas Party on December 15th.  

With all the merriment in the air, it’s not hard to see why I sometimes wonder if each of our young ladies is not just a bit magical.  And then, I remember…they are!  For the love of God is with them always, and perhaps, during this month, it shines just a tiny bit brighter and gives them the extra sparkle that I see daily!

The Hills Were Alive…AT SDA!

This past weekend, it was my pleasure to welcome parents, donors, alumnae and friends to Saint Dominic Academy’s production of The Sound of Music.  This breathtaking show, which began its journey here at SDA in June of 2017 and has continued until late Saturday evening, was full of talented and heart stopping young men and women. The ladies of Saint Dominic Academy, together with students from Saint Peter’s Prep, Hudson Catholic High School, Eastern Christian Academy and All Saints Catholic Academy as well as faculty members from Saint Dominic Academy worked tirelessly, after school, evenings and weekends, to perfect the performances that were held over the weekend.

I am certain it is a story most of our audience knew very well; a heartbroken father finding new love after the loss of a mother, a young woman searching for her place in life, and a brave family facing the Nazi takeover of Austria in the days preceding World War II. The emotions in this show are as wide ranging as the ages that were seen on the stage, from the tiniest Von Trapp child to the most decorated Nazi Officer. The cast and crew’s dedication to the performance had the power to transport viewers to Austria before it fell to Germany,  to lighten their souls with the songs “your heart wants to sing…” and to celebrate the joy that is family as we moved into December and the Christmas season.

What was interesting for me to share with our young students in the cast, some of whom were not aware, was that the story of the Von Trapp Family was a true one; the story of an empowered woman who embraced the twists and turns of her life, until it took her to where she belonged; as the wife of Captain Von Trapp and stepmother to his seven children and later, two of their own.  

Maria Von Trapp, who worked to keep her family together, both as they left Austria and then again in Switzerland and finally in Stowe, Vermont, may not have always been as cheerful and happy as our own Maria, but she did survive, thrive, and bring her family to success.  She was a leader, in a society that was falling under a dangerous regime. She was a brave and protective mother, putting the safety her stepchildren and children before her own at all times.

In short, she was the very portrait of a Saint Dominic Academy girl; empowered, spiritual, and dedicated to doing the right thing.

It was an honor for all of us at Saint Dominic Academy to tell her story and the story of her family!  My sincere thanks and love to the cast, crew, Director and supporters of The Sound of Music.

November Prayer #4

The magic of November…the ongoing prayer of Thanksgiving between each of us and God.

 

For the month of November, I encourage those who read this weekly blog to find here a prayer of Thanksgiving- reminding us that each day, not just Thanksgiving Day, is a day to celebrate all we have to be thankful for in life. Please pray with Saint Dominic Academy all November long.

 

God of light and hope,

Look upon us in love.

Fill us with the Spirit of Jesus,

So that, as Advent approaches,

Our hearts and minds become ready to welcome

With love and joy,

The Spirit of Jesus.

As we move toward December

And await The Light of The World,

May we be filled with the many blessings

You grant to us daily,

And may we look to You with Thankful hearts always.

Amen

November Prayer #3

The magic of November…the ongoing prayer of Thanksgiving between each of us and God.

 

For the month of November, I encourage those who read this weekly blog to find here a prayer of Thanksgiving- reminding us that each day, not just Thanksgiving Day, is a day to celebrate all we have to be thankful for in life. Please pray with Saint Dominic Academy all November long.

 

Lord God, as Thanksgiving approaches this week,

We ask for Your blessings on family and friends.

We ask for Your blessings on our homes, our schools, and our world.

We thank You for this time we spend together,

And we keep in our hearts all those who are not with family on Thanksgiving.

While we celebrate the joys of Thanksgiving,

We continually stay mindful of the sorrows in the world.

We pray for peace in our hearts.

We pray for peace in the world.

Help us to know always that Your love is constant

So that w may share in Your glory.

Amen

November Prayer #2

The magic of November…the ongoing prayer of Thanksgiving between each of us and God.

 

For the month of November, I encourage those who read this weekly blog to find here a prayer of Thanksgiving- reminding us that each day, not just Thanksgiving Day, is a day to celebrate all we have to be thankful for in life. Please pray with Saint Dominic Academy all November long.

 

God, throughout November, be with me

Help me to be mindful of all I have been given.

Allow me to count my abundant blessings instead of my small burdens.

Allow me to see all the beauty in life, and look away from the negativity.

Allow me to celebrate joy each day, and face sorrows with the hope of a better tomorrow.

Allow me to share my smile with others, and to dry tears of sadness.

Allow me to feel Your presence when I grow fearful and to gain courage.

Most of all, allow me always, to call upon You, to take comfort in Your presence,

And to count on Your love for all.

Amen

November Prayer #1

The magic of November…the ongoing prayer of Thanksgiving between each of us and God.

 

For the month of November, I encourage those who read this weekly blog to find here a prayer of Thanksgiving- reminding us that each day, not just Thanksgiving Day, is a day to celebrate all we have to be thankful for in life. Please pray with Saint Dominic Academy all November long.

 

Oh God, when I have food,

Help me to remember the hungry.

When I am overwhelmed with work,

Help me to remember those seeking jobs.

When my home feels messy and cluttered,

Help me to remember those who have no home.

When I have a sniffle or a headache,

Help me to pray for those suffering from long term aliments.

Be with me God, this November

Ignite my compassion for others,

Motivate me to help with both word and deed,

And never allow me to take my blessings for granted. Amen