Highlight Reel…

This is almost mind blowing to me, but as I sit here in my office typing…I am typing my 100th Blog! Little did I know when I was asked to write a blog as I stepped into the role of Head of School, that it would become perhaps one of my favorite weekly tasks, and that I had so much to say on such a variety of subjects. (Stop laughing those who know me well!) And so, in talking blog ideas out for the month, I threw out the idea of having the 100th blog be a “highlight reel”- statements from previous blogs that truly stood out to me. Well, readers, that meant that I had to go back and re-read at least twice, every single blog post I have written. A daunting task for Labor Day weekend, but one that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. And so…here are the most important pieces( in my mind) of wit and wisdom I have offered in blogs written from 1-99. Happy reading!

I encourage your daughters, not to fear the transitions that wait ahead…the year may be different, it may bring the unexpected, but anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.

Small acts of kindness are taught every day by a faculty who can recall history’s past mistakes.

Together, we can continue to inspire young ladies to be active, be healthy and most importantly, be happy both with themselves and the world around them.

We do not presume to lay an individual’s dreams out in a catalog and tell her what she should want. Instead, we allow the space to grow and learn, so that each girl determines what she wishes for herself.

What happened in Salem in 1692 is just one example of a grave injustice toward woman and although it may not receive more than a paragraph in a history textbook, it is one that should be called to our attention…until we ensure that blind persecution does not occur in this day and age.

Annie is the perfect musical for SDA- it is at its heart a tale of an empowered young girl, one who does not let the world stand in the way of her dreams.

Be thankful, for all you’ve been given. Be thankful for the love that surrounds you.

We teach…that no matter what lies in store for them, they are heroines of their own life stories…women do not need to be rescued, they do the rescuing.

And, isn’t that what education is all about? For young people not just to memorize but have a spark fanned into a flame…the current Hamilton craze has many educational benefits!

I have been a teacher for years and will be a teacher for my life-I thank all teachers especially those who chose to shape lives here at Saint Dominic Academy.

My father is the backbone that allows me to be the woman I am; the woman I hope inspires young woman daily.

We need to keep throwing our hats in the air until the glass ceiling shatters above us! We are strong, we are empowered and ladies…we’re gonna make it after all!

Friendship, I have learned, spreads its mantle far and wide.

It is at all girls Catholic school that girls truly learn that intelligent, faith filled women can change the world.

If we are to be successful, we must be supportive of ALL Catholic educational endeavors.

Whether we are mourning an end of a relationship, the loss of a friendship, physical illness, the death of a loved one….our sadness is not ever unnoticed by God.

I am in agreement that sometimes, unconventional teaching reaches students that rote lessons and by the book memorizations cannot.

I would be lost without the daily grace and love my mother brings to my life.

Let us remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that America could truly be one nation, under God.

With my heart and mind rooted in character education, I cannot help but wonder, isn’t Character Education what Catholic school has been about since its inception?

If we reflect daily on the beauty and wonder of God all around us, our days will be filled with a sense of peace, of faith and of love.

In our school, there is always that sense, that felling that every girl cares about the well being of others.

It’s tough to be a sister at times…but it is also one of the nicest things in the world to be.

Celebrate the autumn season..the beauty of nature that occurs between the first day of fall and the advent of the holiday season.

During the season of pumpkin spice, allow God to carve in your soul a new, smiling face and allow the gift of His light to shine inside you for all the world to see.

I am a Mom and Moms show no fear!

It’s ok to be afraid, as long as you do not let fear overwhelm you. It’s ok to be nervous about being in a new situation as long as you recognize the strength within yourself to adjust and make a place for yourself.

As a parent I spend so much time being nervous and scared that I am not in the mood for horror movie shrieks this October.

For we know it’s not the monster under the bed that matters, but the one who lurks behind the computer screen who is the real threat.

How many more tragic tales do we have to hear before our youth finally learn that WORDS DO HURT?

That’s the magic of November, the ongoing prayer of Thanksgiving between each of us and God.

The love of God is within the girls this Christmas season and it shines a bit brighter and gives each young lady that extra sparkle I see daily.

Maria Von Trapp….a leader in a society falling under a dangerous regime, and a brave and protective mother putting the safety of her stepchildren before her own safety at all times.

Remember always, the true spirit of Christmas lies within your heart.

For me, a perfect winter would begin with a light dusting of snow on Thanksgiving, sprinkle some flakes in the purple December twilight, gift us with a fluffy white Christmas, and then pack it in on New Years Day…if only I lived in Camelot!

For many of my readers, the concern already is…how much tech time is too much?

Fathers have been supporting us since the moment we took our first breath in the world. They are our quiet caretakers, the ones that help us grow to be strong women.

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 at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School.

I know that we, as mothers have to reach a point where we are comfortable with letting go. By that I mean letting small things go; its ok to leave my coffee cup in the sink if it means I can do Abigail’s read aloud with her…let me share with you one important quote that makes me feel better as a mom. Don’t be hard on yourself, that mom from E.T. had an alien living in her house for days…and never even noticed!

I believe in Catholic education, I believe in girls. I believe that catholic girls education is essential if we want to change society for the better.

We (mothers) see the amazing amount of potential in the tiniest human and …we take on the arduous and sometimes trying role of shaping our little ones so they grow to do wonderful things.

In that theater I learned two very important things…if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane…breathe in, breathe out, move on. What an amazingly wonderful experience.

God is creativity in its purest form.

Keep writing, keep dreaming…we need more creative minds in our daily world.

The film ( The Wizard of Oz) is all about the transformation from an unsure young girl to a strong and empowered woman…and in many ways it tells the story of each young lady sitting before me (at graduation) today.

The gift to make yourself happy, to make yourself successful, to become the best person you can be resides in each of you and has from the moment you took your first breath.

Parents are an essential backbone to the Catholic School community; it has always been that way and it will never change.

I am wary of movies that empower women at the expense of the man looking like a moron…We can be heroes but only if the men are incompetent? What kind of empowering message is that?

Stop waiting..for Friday afternoons, for fall, for someone to fall in love with, for your life to begin…Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it, and take active steps to be your own best person, to live your own best life….then, everything else you dream of falls into place.

 

So, that is indeed a lot of food for thought…please drop me a comment, give me a call and let me know what spoke to you most over these 100 blogs!

On the Eve of Infamy…

When Americans hear the word infamy, I am certain many of us call to mind the words uttered just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor…”a day that will live in infamy.” And yet today is the eve of the anniversary of another infamous day- one that seems as tangibly close and horrifying 17 years later as it did on September 11th, 2001. When those of us who were alive on September 10th 2001 put our heads to rest that night, little did we know our lives, our sense of security, our very country and our presence in global society would be shaken to the core in less than 24 hours. And yet, on that sunny morning 17 years ago, it took less than a half hour for the world as each of us knew it to crumble into dust- never ever to be the same again.

Tragedy- each of us have known it in our personal lives, in our shared experiences with others and for those who have bravely served our country in the armed forces, served our cities as fire or police officers, have seen it on a more expanded level. However, the tragedy of September 11th was insurmountable, unfathomable, and for many of us, still fresh enough in our minds to move us to tears and heartache on this day and into tomorrow. Two years ago, my very second blog as Head of School focused on the fact that the incoming 9th graders, now juniors at SDA were born into a world where September 11th was already a historical event. And two years later, more and more young people have joined our world, a world where the events of 9/11 are read about in history texts or talked about in the past tense and this current world, where terrorism at home and abroad has become sadly all too common is the world in which our children live today.

They did not know the peace that all of us carried in our hearts the evening of September 10th 2001. We ourselves did not know the peace we carried inside of us on that date; for we never realized it could be taken from us in such a violent and terrible way. We, you and I both, took things for granted- meeting someone at the airport gate, eating at Windows on the World, feeling safe on a flight to Florida or California or wherever else our whimsical travels took us. More than those things, which I do miss, what I know I took for granted was the fact that my daughter, then not even a twinkle in my eye, would live in a safe and peaceful world; a world that while not perfect, was certainly not a world filled with violence, terror, fear and hatred. And yet, 17 years later for many of us that is the daily world in which we live.

Oh it’s not prominent- we have learned as all humans learn, to adjust our mindsets, our actions, our very ways of life. We’ve met our new world with a sense of resignation and acceptance. Just ask yourself, how many times have you uttered the sentence “This is the world we live in now.” I know I have said it on many occasions. Do I feel every day that we, as a people, as a country, as a member of global society are in mortal danger? No- not every day. However, am I much more fearful than I was on this date 17 years ago? Yes, I am and I suspect yes, so are many of you.

It’s a heartbreaking date in our history, a heartbreaking memory for all who lived through it and not only because of the sheer enormity of senseless death and destruction. It’s heartbreaking because of how it has changed us, shaken us, literally to the core. There is no going back to the peace we once had- there is only learning daily to live with the fears of today and to try and not let fear overtake our hearts, minds and souls.

To continue to teach and preach peace, love, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness is an unending task; one that all Americans must take on and work to showcase. Our young children know no other world than this one- and so we have to build, not the sense of peace that once existed, but perhaps a new one- for each of our children so that the fear we have carried with us for 17 long years will not engulf their hearts and stop them from believing in a more peaceful earth.

Casting Complete…The King and I at SDA!

It’s been a theatrical summer for this Head of School. I saw Escape to Margaritaville in June, Pretty Woman- The Musical in July (which I highly recommend) and in just two days, I head off with my little one to see Hamilton! I’ve been waiting a full year to see this and am quite excited. In addition, my daughter has been hard at work all summer long- she is playing Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach, Jr. I am, of course, over the moon excited to see her onstage doing what she loves the first weekend in August.

Here too at Saint Dominic Academy, our drama director Ms. Stephanie DeSarle is getting quite excited…she spent July casting the female roles in our production of The King and I and this year, is partnering with our experienced dance coach Marie Pompeo-Maffia in order to stage what is sure to be our most elaborate production yet. The curtain rises on November 30 and December 1st, and more information about tickets and the pre-show receptions will be coming in the fall. Also being announced in the fall are the names of our King of Siam and Lun Tha as well as some younger faces who will join us and play the royal princes and princesses. ( We are rounding up some “future” SDA girls for these adorable parts!) For now, it is my extreme pleasure to share with you, the Saint Dominic Academy Cast List for The King and I.

 

Anna Leonowens Julia Rinaldi
Lady Thiang Rachel Perrie
Tuptim Valentyna Simon
The King of Siam TBD
The Kralahome Reagan Mattiello
Lun Tha TBD
Louis(a) Leonowens Abigail Degnan
Prince Chululong Korn Gabby Beredo
Captain Orton Caitlin Aristizabal
The Interpreter Alison Mah
Phra Alack Caitlin Aristizabal
Sir Edward Ramsey Jessica Stanley
Princess Ying Yaowlak Veronica Dominguez
Royal Wives Led by:

Alyssa Fuentes

Featuring:

Téa Baramidze

Liv Lekovish

Christis Shepard

Ensemble (Cross Cast)

Royal Dancers Aisha Adeboye and SDA’s Dance Team
Royal Princes and Princesses SDA Family/TBA
Buddhist Priests, Amazons Ensemble (Cross Cast)

Spend An SDA Day at the Races This August!

Calling all racing fans..for the second year in a row, Saint Dominic Academy is embracing a “gift of the Garden State” and hosting a summer event for families, alumnae, and friends of SDA.

Whether you’re a fan of horse racing or not, there is no doubt that a day at Monmouth Park is an experience that every New Jerseyean has to undertake at least once in his or her life. So, if you have not yet come down to the track, make your inaugural visit this summer as part of our SDA Day at the Races. If you and Monmouth Park are “old buddies”, then please come and celebrate with us this summer.

On Sunday, August 5th , we will host our 2nd Annual SDA Day at the Races at Monmouth Park! We will celebrate this day with family and friends; children are welcome. Food is always available for purchase at the Park, or you can pack a cooler and picnic with friends as the ponies speed by! Our goal for the day is a simple one; to come together and enjoy each other’s company in this historic and picturesque New Jersey setting.

The SDA Alumnae Association is organizing this event on behalf of the school. For more information, you can visit the Alumnae section of the Saint Dominic Academy website.

An SDA Artist in Residence!

This week, let’s give some well deserved congratulations to our own Eryn Lewis who is currently spending three weeks in Juneau, Alaska. Eryn was selected to participate in this program by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She will spend time in study with artists in the area, learning studio practices. Her focus for the three weeks will be wood carving, papermaking and printing. After the conclusion of her residence, she will create a body of work which incorporates all of the mastered techniques and her outstanding artwork will be part of an exhibit.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet our beloved Ms. Lewis is well aware of her talents as an artist; and not just at Saint Dominic Academy. Her list of exhibitions is extensive and includes the following:

            The Art Factory, Paterson NJ • Paterson Art Walk

            Brooklyn Art House Library’s Print Exchange 2014• Brooklyn NY

             Fine Art Alliance of Nutley, Nutley NJ • Inaugural Art Show 

             Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal, 2014 • 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro 2014,

             Lamego Museum and Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal • Global Print 2013

             Art on the Avenue, Nutley NJ

             Digital Art Salon, Santa Fe, NM • Alchemy throughout the Ages: Enlightenment through Experience

             Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Manhattan, NY • MFA Exhibition

             Pratt Studios Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Graduate Thesis Exhibition, In Absentia

             Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY • Pressure Printmaking 1st Annual Print exchange and exhibition

             N.A.W.A. Gallery, New York City, NY • National Association of Women Artists: Small Works Show

             Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ •Pratt Exchange Exhibition, Across the River

             The Ice House, Morgan Art Council, Berkeley Springs, WV • Handmade Paper and Book Arts Exhibition

             Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ •I Love Jersey City, photo exhibition

 

We at Saint Dominic Academy congratulate and celebrate Eryn as she completes her summer artist in resident program and we eagerly await her return “home” to us in the fall.

 

That’s Incredible…Or Is It Stereotypical?

Summer is here and with it comes the array of summer movies that people flock to the theater to view. I am no exception; I was at The Incredibles 2 the weekend it opened (Abby chose the movie) and although my readers know I am a dedicated Disney/Pixar fan, I was not overly excited to see Mr. Incredible and the Gang back for a sequel. Let me start by being honest- I do not like superhero movies, even if they are done by Disney. No interest in watching Batman take down the Joker or seeing Superman save the world, or discovering all the hidden talents that the X-Men have—I know for many people it’s a genre of film they embrace, but it has never been my cup of tea.

So, when I met the Incredible Family 14 years ago, I was not overly impressed; the kid runs fast, the girl can be invisible, the mom is basically an amped up Gumby and the dad is big and strong. Oh, and he has that friend (voiced by Samuel L Jackson) who can freeze things. I think true fans of superhero films would recognize these “powers” as fairly stereotypical ones; they’ve been featured in other films many a time. Seeing the, albeit highly amusing, family once again a few weeks ago was not a huge draw for me, but I went and at least expected to be a bit entertained…after all it got great reviews…

From Time Magazine: Incredibles 2 goes even deeper, delving into the fragility of the male ego in a world where women are asserting themselves more every day. Honestly, I was a bit put off by that statement, as well as the incredibly (no pun intended) stereotypical way Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastagirl were depicted in the film. For me, it ran like an episode of every sitcom based around the concept that if the woman is smart, the man must be dumb. So, in this film, Elastagirl heads out to save the world because the world responds best to her as a superhero. They’ve got her all fitted out in a tight suit (as if the one from the first film was not tight enough), she’s at glamorous parties, she’s doing press interviews and all the while, there is Mr. Incredible and at this point the name takes on a mocking tone, at home with his teenage daughter, his hyper son and his baby Jack-Jack, who bursts into flames, turns into a temper tantrum throwing demon and multiples when he is really angry. Dear old dad, of course, has no idea how to handle his kids- he ruins his daughter’s relationship with her potential boy crush, son Dash literally just runs around the house, and sweet little baby fights with a squirrel after he is left unsupervised and gets out of the house. And what does Mr. Incredible do?? He is depicted with bags under his eyes, stubble on his face, and a constant look of sheer exhaustion.

Are we, and is a generation of 6-8 years olds meant to come away from the film with the idea that “mom can do anything- save the world and run the house?” but “Dad, lol, he is so clueless.” Because I for one think that is a very bad message to send out to a young generation. I am wary of movies that empower women at the expense of a man looking like a moron. Even our villain in this film is a woman, while her brother is her sweet unsuspecting clueless minion. So, is that how it is? We can be heroes, but only if the men are incompetent? What kind of empowering message is that? Not one at all, as far as I can see…just another retelling of a ½ hour sitcom that is some 2018 version of “let’s all laugh at dad.”

As you know, I am all for empowered women being depicted in film, in novels and most importantly being praised in real life. However, I felt that the kind of empowerment depicted here was the wrong kind, and most surely the wrong message to send to young men and women. We can be empowered yes, but we can also work together to, if not save the world, at least make it a better place!

America!

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A Fond Farwell…

As our school year drew to a close, the faculty, staff, administration and students of Saint Dominic Academy had to bid farewell to several beloved members of our staff. Leaving us at the end of this year are three dedicated members of the Saint Dominic Academy family who always went above and beyond for the young ladies of SDA. We wish them well in all of their future endeavors, pray that life continues to bless them, and remind them that they are always a part of our of school community.

Mrs. Gaylor Wade– Business teacher, Guidance assistant, mentor to many of our young ladies; for years she brought wisdom, insight and kind words to the students she taught and to the school in general. Mrs. Wade focused tirelessly on talking to our young ladies about the importance of acting like a lady in all situations, of self respect and self worth, and of how to “make it” in the world. More than just a teacher, she became a confident of many of our seniors each year and the halls of SDA will miss her beautiful smile and gentle laughter.

 

Mr. Joseph Babico– For years, Mr. Babico has been a gift to the entire SDA Community, sharing his talents (onstage in The Sound of Music) his insights as a veteran English teacher, and perhaps most importantly, the gift of his wife, Mrs. Denise Babico who was always on hand to help out in his Honors classroom, support a school event, or attend a trip with the ladies of SDA. A gentleman in every way, his gifted knowledge of English literature touched the lives of the many 9th and 10th grade students who were blessed to be in his classes over the years. As a fellow English teacher, I will say he has been one of the finest English teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing and he will be missed greatly by all at SDA.

 

Mr. Thomas Cantwell- Nobody who ever encountered Tom’s warm laughter and Irish brogue ever walked away without a smile on his or her face. He was, for the past years that he had been with SDA, the heart of the school. Here with the sunrise, Tom was the first person many of us, teachers and students included saw each and every morning- guaranteeing that our day started off well. An immaculate building, a spotless and perfect Siena Hall, beautiful landscaping- all done with a smile and a kind word. There were tears in many eyes when Tom said farewell; his included and he left knowing that he is part of the Saint Dominic Academy family and is always welcome at 2572! He will be greatly missed.

 

My sincere thanks to all three of these dedicated members of the community and my best wishes for all the best life has to offer!

Purple Ink…Think Positive

On our opening day of school, I had the chance to talk and share with the administration, faculty and staff my overall “theme” for the 2017-2018 school year.  This year, we are all, adults and students- making a concentrated effort to “Think Positive” and to be positive in all we say and all we do. If you will indulge me briefly this week, I will share the origin story of where I received this inspiration.

This past summer from June 25 to July 30th, Abigail was in a theater camp, putting on Willy Wonka Jr. Not my favorite show by any means(although I much prefer it to the new version on  Broadway…we saw that and were horrified by the violence depicted!)  and she played Grandma Josephina, which was interesting in and of itself.  After listening to the music daily and running lines with her each evening, the story began to grow on me.

By the time the weekend of the 4 shows ( yup FOUR with a cast ages 5-12) arrived, I was excited and sat back in my front row seat ready to listen and be entertained.  And during each show, one song and one particular line within the song kept standing out to me.  “Write your thoughts down in purple ink…think positive!”  That just stuck with me and I kept turning it over and over in my head during the month of August.

What a wonderful theme for us here, at SDA as we begin our Middle States Evaluation.  All of us, all day, every day, for this entire school year should think positive, be positive, and embrace all of the wonderful things that will happen at SDA during the next 10 months.  Let’s see how many positive thoughts we can accumulate during the year!

And, today, I am asking parents, alumnae, and readers of this blog, if you have a wonderfully positive memory or thought or story about Saint Dominic Academy, then type it out in purple ink and send it to me via email!  I will do my best to be your positive inspiration if you will be mine!

September 11, 2017

Today, I ask all of you who read this blog to take a quiet moment and read this prayer in memory of the September 11, 2001 tragedy.  For those of us who remember it well, our lives will never be the same.

Lord of Mercy, Prince of Peace,

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory. 

This day does not pass in the calendar without our remembering.

We remember images of death. Images that human eyes were never meant to see.  We remember words our ears were never meant to hear, the tender last words of husbands and wives who would never embrace again.

We imagine the feeling of emptiness in the arms of children who at the end of the day could not find mom or dad for their welcome home hug. We remember our own feelings of emptiness as our sense of security, as our own confidence in the predictable order of life and work was radically shaken.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory. 

We remember the heroism of the many that lost their lives in saving others. We remember all those who suffered and died, we grieve for them still, friends and strangers alike, along with their families and friends.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory.

And it is right that it should not pass from our memory. But today and in this prayer, along with our remembrance of profound loss, it also seems right that we give voice to our deep longing for peace, and with this prayer, commit ourselves to those actions that will draw us closer to our most ancient and most holy desire, peace among all God’s children.

http://www.oldstpats.org/prayer-of-remembrance-for-911/