The Curtain Rises: Annie

In a fictional New York City in 1933, a cheerful, red-headed orphan remains wistfully optimistic that her parents, who left her at an orphanage in 1922, will return to claim her.  This spunky young heroine, who is living during the Great Depression, refuses to look on the downside and instead, insists that, to borrow the words from another fictional work “ tomorrow is another day.” ( Thank you,  Margaret Mitchell).  Does this tale sound familiar? It should; almost everyone is well versed in how to “hang on till tomorrow, come what may!”  Little Orphan Annie, who made her first literary debut in a poem by James Whitcomb Riley in 1885, and then became a long standing newsprint cartoon character and radio show, was developed into a now iconic Broadway musical, which debuted on the Great White Way in 1977.  And later this week on November 18th and 19th of 2016, Saint Dominic Academy will present Annie for students, parents and alumnae.

Our young orphan has seen some changes from her origins in 1885. In the poem, Annie is an orphan who has come to the home of a wealthy family; she cooks and cleans and also tells the younger children stories about how “the goblins will get you if you don’t watch out.”  Not as winsome as our ideal red-headed moppet, this Annie carried a message of warning to small children; be good for your parents or else!  In newsprint and on the radio, Annie was a spirited child, battling robbers and pirates, together with her dog Sandy and several other characters familiar to us.  When she arrived on Broadway in 1977, she was a tap dancing, red-headed darling; a Shirley Temple of sorts for a new generation. In 1982, she hit the big screen in the movie version and there have been two other movie productions of the story, as well as numerous revivals.

To say that our little orphan, Annie, is iconic is putting it mildly. For generations, she has been encouraging us to look on the bright side, to hope for the best, to never stop believing. She has existed through the ages; her character survived the Depression and went on to experience Roosevelt’s New Deal. Likewise, the story has brought hope and inspiration since its music and lyrics were composed in 1977.  Is there any one of us who can listen to the lyrics to “Maybe”, without welling up?  Anyone out there who cannot belt out “Tomorrow”, with gusto?

And for as long as there has been the character of Annie, Saint Dominic Academy has been around.  SDA was here when Whitcomb penned his poem; perhaps it was taught then, as I plan to teach it now!  While young ladies were attending SDA in the 1920’s perhaps they read the debut comic strip and those SDA girls from the 1930’s may have put homework aside to listen to the radio program.  The comic continued for generations and in 1977, I would imagine that there were some lucky SDA students headed to NYC to see the musical in its debut performance. I know I myself was in a movie theatre in 1982, barely five years old, seeing the film on the big screen.  I am sure many of you remember going to see it as well.  I loved it then, and I love it now, as I hear the music being played in ELAN, as I watch the orphans bang their pots and brooms during their dance routines, as I listen to our very own Annie ( played by Amity Arejo, class of 2018) sing the timeless songs from this show.

Annie is the perfect musical for SDA; for several reasons. It is, at its heart, the tale of an empowered young woman, one who does not let the world stand in the way of her dreams.  Its focus is a timeless character, one who has existed for 131 years, only 7 years fewer than Saint Dominic Academy itself.  You might say that SDA and Annie have grown together, changed together, and both are a snapshot of the changing times in our country and world. Both have endured, and will endure for ages to come.  I am so very happy that the first musical under my tenure of Head of School is Annie and I hope many of you will join us at our show this weekend!

Gala: A Celebration of SDA

Merriam – Webster dictionary offers the following definition of Gala:  A festive celebration, especially a public entertainment marking a special occasion. That definition, as broad as it is, does not do full justice to the event planned for Saint Dominic Academy this coming Thursday evening. Our annual leadership Gala, held in a new venue this year: Il Villaggio, is of course going to be a festive celebration. How could it not be, as it will feature a Live and Silent Auction, a cocktail hour and full dinner, a performance by the Saint Dominic Academy Dominoes, and dancing to conclude the evening.  It is also going to be a highly special occasion, celebrating two of our wonderful alumnae as well as a generous corporate sponsor and friend of the SDA community.  Bayonne Community Bank will be recognized for its support of Saint Dominic Academy. Stephanie Barbi’ 64, will be honored for her loyal dedication to Saint Dominic Academy; her years of devoted service to the Alumnae Association speak for themselves. Maria Pompeo-Maffia ’79, will also be commemorated for her ongoing role at Saint Dominic Academy, as the coach of our internationally record breaking dance team. Indeed, just by this description alone, the 18th Annual Leadership Gala does fit the dictionary definition of Gala.

However, the night will be so much more than those brief words can encompass.  Alumnae will come together to reminisce about their time at Saint Dominic Academy and to raise their voices along with the Dominoes when the alma mater is performed. Friends and family will see these three honorees publicly recognized for their good works; works that at times have kept them away from the evening dinner table or Sunday brunch. Parents will celebrate the continued success of the school community.   Our Board of Trustees, school administration, and Department Chairpersons will be on hand to discuss the multi layered facets that compose the SDA of today for the students. And our students themselves, from our student speaker to our performers, to our Student Council executive board will be present to talk first -hand about how a Saint Dominic Academy education has shaped their lives for the better.

This is a night where Saint Dominic Academy truly shines; a night to cherish and remember for always. As this is my first Gala in my position as Head of School, I am very much looking forward to celebrating SDA’s vibrant past and exciting future. If you have not attended or supported the Gala in the past, after hearing all the wonderful stories that will sure to be told in the weeks following this event, I am hopeful that you will consider joining us in 2017 for our next Gala! To the many of you that I will see on Thursday night, I thank you for your continued support of Saint Dominic Academy and to those who support from afar, please lift your voices wherever you are and join us in the alma mater on November 10th.

Ghostbusters? – Happy Halloween

In honor of Halloween, TV during the month of October has been overrun with Halloween themed films. One needs only to flip through the channels to encounter movies ranging from sweetly spooky, to family movie night worthy, to downright too scary to watch with the lights off. Mixed in with these films is that genre of comedy horror, showcasing Hocus Pocus and of course, the now almost iconic Ghostbusters, which has held on to its fans and gained numerous new ones since its release in 1984. I will admit, I have seen that film enough times to know most of the dialogue and yet, I will still watch it if it happens to be on TV. This past summer, I did venture out to see the new version: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, and while my personal opinion of the film was that it was not as humorous as the original, I did notice big improvements in one key area.

In the original film, we had our three key characters, all men with doctorates in Parapsychology and Psychology.  Only one is referred to by the title Dr with any regularity throughout the film.  Their employment when the film opens is prestigious enough; they are researchers and professors at Columbia University. It is only when they are fired from their post, that they begin work as Ghostbusters; prompting New Yorkers everywhere to call upon them to eliminate all their paranormal needs! (See, I know that dialogue all too well!)  Fast forward to 2016 and what progress has been made! Not only are our “heroes” women; that alone is an empowering message- four women who are going to save New York City, but the careers assigned to three of these young Ghostbusters are a fine example of how women have been able to move forward and advance!

In the original film, we saw several minor female characters: a musician, a secretary, a librarian, and a librarian ghost. All good solid careers (well, except for the ghost!) and for movies in the mid 1980’s, not surprising choices to assign female characters in the film.  In 2016, our three key characters are all women, with doctorates as well. However, much to my surprise and pleasure when I watched the film, two were physicists and one was an engineer. These two career choices would not have been showcased in an 80’s film with a primarily female cast.  Why the change? They could have kept the same careers as the men had in 1984 and still been able to carry the plot through well enough. Did anyone really question how Bill Murray and his crew built that ghost storage facility having little knowledge of engineering?

The change, at least in part, I hope, was intentional and meant to acknowledge the changing attitudes toward women and the fields of science and technology that has occurred in the years spanning 1984 to 2016. These are wonderful career choices; women can be engineers, they can study physics, they can even be Ghostbusters if they choose! In 1984, I was dressed as Laura Ingalls for Halloween( another empowered women who I will blog about at some point!) ; I probably would have loved to have  been a Ghostbuster, but sadly, those were boy costumes only. In 2016, any little boy or girl can choose to Answer the Call and announce “I ain’t afraid of no ghost”  thanks to the reboot of a film that gave three women quite a career promotion!  An empowering message from a mediocre movie and I thought it was fitting to share it today, on October 31st! Happy Halloween!

Historical Perspectives

Currently, in my (limited) spare time, I am reading The Witches, Salem 1692 a weighty 400 page historical work by Stacy Schiff, an author whose previous historical look into the life of Cleopatra I enjoyed very much.  While it’s hardly light reading (and I mean that literally since it is not on my Kindle) and there are certainly no surprise endings, it is a worthwhile look into a historical event within our country that centered primarily on women.  For non historians, some of our knowledge of this event may stem more from Arthur Miller or even Disney (think the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus), but Salem in 1692 was a tragic event for the country and one that should not be forgotten.  Although five men were executed for witchcraft during the 1692 hysteria, nineteen women were executed during that time and over 200 were imprisoned, ranging in age from 5 to 82. As Schiff points out early on; “Along with suffrage and Prohibition, the Salem Witch Trials represent one of the few moments when women played a central role in American history.”

Not a role any of the accused or executed took on willingly and as we are aware, not one of these women (or men) who were hanged were guilty of any witchcraft whatsoever.  But Schiff’s quote struck a nerve with me; although our country’s history is relatively short when compared with others, it is those three events (and perhaps a major one looming on the horizon in November), where women have been the chief focus of a monumental historical event.  In discussing the trials and the women who were accused in detail, Schiff denounces, and rightly so, those who perpetrated this act of persecution and violence. It was a product of the times and the belief of the times, of that there is no doubt, but the evidence presented would have perhaps been more readily disregarded if in fact, many of the accused had been wealthy, prosperous men during that same time period.  She ventures on to point out that during the 300th anniversary events in 1992 to commemorate the victims of the trials, a park was dedicated in Salem and a memorial in Danvers. In November 2001, the Massachusetts legislature passed an act exonerating all of those convicted and listing them by name, including some persons left out of earlier actions. However, her conclusion, she succinctly puts it, is that, for women at that time “the best heroine is an accidental one.”  I concede to her view, although I think she could have used a stronger word; the word I would have chosen would have been martyr.

Prejudice against women is not an unfamiliar historical tale, for any one of us.  Many of us are also familiar with the key phrase “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”  In essence, this may or not be entirely true all of the time. However, when major historical injustices occur, it is important and imperative that we, as a country, make sure that the implications of those injustices are explained to our children, so that they cannot manifest again in one form or another. What happened in Salem in 1692 is just one example of a grave injustice toward primarily women and although it may not receive more than a paragraph in a history textbook, it is one that should be called to our attention time and again, until we ensure that blind persecution does not occur in this day and age.

At Saint Dominic Academy, we have always put forth a concentrated effort to ensure that our young ladies receive an in-depth look at historical events, within both their history and literature classes, so that they are more aware and more well versed in just how and why these tragedies occurred and what can be done to prevent them from happening again. Our AP History scores since 2012 attest to the fact that we make certain that the young ladies at Saint Dominic Academy are true scholars of American History. Over 70 of our students, from 2012 to 2016 have earned college credit in History through our AP History and Government classes.  We currently offer AP History on the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade level, with great success, in our efforts to ensure that our young ladies will not only never repeat histories past mistakes, but work to continue to change history for the better for women everywhere.

Wish List

It’s not even Halloween and already, Toys R Us has their holiday Wish List out. It’s online, it’s on social media, and, worst of all, it is IN THE MAIL!  Perhaps many of my readers’ daughters are too old to snatch that catalog out of the mail pile, but I have a five year old and so, when it arrived, Toys R Us was high on my list of things I do not like…at least for a few days!  It’s not that I do not like Christmas; I love it. And it is not like I haven’t started my Christmas shopping; I am in fact almost finished. (Thank you, Zulily!) It’s this idea of a Wish List, arriving at the house, telling children what they should want this year (and let’s look at the price tags of some of those items) instead of giving children the opportunity to dream, to reflect, and to really wish for something that their heart desires, not what the catalogs or commercials are telling them they want.

And so, what does the Wish List contain this year? A few highlights, if you will indulge me. For girls; a “Tall Mall” Shopkins case for $34.99. Just what we need, a box that opens in the front so the hundreds of Shopkins that I have stuffed in a Ziploc bag can tumble out and get sucked up in the vacuum cleaner! And then we have the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, priced at $32.99 which allows for girls age 3 and up to make their own lip gloss using some lovely scented sticky gel. Wonder if it will ever wash off my couch? And just what is a Num Nom anyway?  For boys we have the Intratech Imperial Stormtrooper; 12 inches tall and $24.99. He says 65 phrases and, well…I am not quite sure from the description what else he does. And then, we have the “hot toy” for youngsters, so new it is not priced yet…The PJ Masks Headquarter Play set! It is three feet tall; figures NOT included, of course and I am thinking before this toy ever made its way down my chimney, first, I would need a better explanation of exactly what PJ Masks is?! I have watched it a few times; are they kids? Are they superheroes? Are they kids pretending to be superheroes?  Thank goodness I was ahead of the game when I snatched up the Shimmer and Shine Magic Carpet back in May on Zulily.  That toy is listed as “currently not available” on Fisher Price.  My point here is that there does not seem to be anything on this list that will be played with for any real length of time. A storage case? A solo action figure the size of a ruler? I am not seeing the toys that create memories; the baby doll that gets carried to church on Christmas morning, the cowboy hat that leads to hours of pretend play. Those of a certain age may, like me, miss the element of surprise that once came with the Christmas holidays, when you woke up unsure if those wishes were going to come true!

A natural transition from the childhood wishes is what we, parents, educators, school leaders, wish for our children as they grow out of that “Toys R Us” stage and into the high school setting.  We wish for their happiness, their ability to fit in, to make friends, to excel in academics and athletics; in short to grow from children into confident young adults, who in turn take their childhood dreams and desires and shape them into future goals.

 At Saint Dominic Academy, we may not be able to grant wishes with a wave of a wand, but we work very hard to ensure that those intangible high school dreams and wishes do come true for the young women who walk our halls. A chance to lead; as president of the NHS or Student Council, a chance to shine, as the star of “Annie” or a Christmas soloist in the Dominoes, a chance to compete, as the captain of the basketball team or the pitcher on the softball field, and chance to express oneself, as an artist, a poet, a photographer or a writer in our art and literary offerings.  Most importantly, we provide a chance to excel; with 9 AP classes and many Honors level classes on all grade levels, so students can choose where their strongest interests lie and pursue advanced classes in those areas.  Like the daydreams that beloved toys from childhood once inspired, these opportunities offered to the young ladies in grades 7-12 here at Saint Dominic Academy will help to shape their futures, to guide them on their college and career paths, and to motivate each girl to achieve her personal “Wish List”, wherever it takes her. 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 on her own what she wishes for herself. And, we give them time to dream, to imagine, to picture all the possibilities; we do not rush the “season”, so to speak and instead give them 6 years, if they begin as 7th graders to see what the future holds.

The holidays are wonderful; in their season. I won’t rush the season myself and I promise; no more writing about Christmas until after Thanksgiving!

Girls Scouting and STEM…Clever Connection

How many women reading this blog were once Girl Scouts? I was; from a Brownie in a brown jumper and orange snap tie all the way up to the green skirt, white blouse, vest covered with badges and the green beret perched on my 7th grade head.  I have pictures to prove it, although I won’t be posting them!  And, those who were Girl Scouts or who had Scouts in the family will well remember the biggest Scouting event of the year was selling Girl Scout Cookies. They are iconic now, with candy bars and ice cream parlors and even Dunkin Donuts offering cookie flavored creations.  Back in the late 1980’s when I was Scouting, they were just our fundraiser, sold door to door; or if I was lucky, at my dad’s office.  And now, the Girl Scouts are taking the STEM world by storm, and proving that STEM is an area where women, even young women, can and do succeed!

In January of 2016, the Girl Scouts were at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with Digital Cookie 2.0. This is their online addition to the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program. They also showcased a brand new Girls’ STEM Summit. “ Girl Scouts is expanding its presence to give girls a unique opportunity to learn from top influencers and present our latest technology at a world renowned tradeshow, as well as showcase all the organization is doing to address girls’ involvement in STEM.”  Being able to order Girl Scout cookies online is exciting enough news for those of us who do not have a seller in the family. (Luckily, my niece is a Girl Scout and so, not only do I have a steady supply, but now that order form appears on my desk each spring!) But even more interesting is that the Girl Scouts, an organization dedicated to promoting leadership and empowerment for girls as young as five, recognizes that STEM is an area that girls need to be educated about and are working to incorporate it into their organization.  At the January event,  The Girl Scouts booth allowed visitors to take a selfie with STEM props that include all Girl Scout STEM badges; and enter a contest  by sharing on social media why they support girls in STEM by using #genSTEMgirls. When I was a Girl Scout, I do not recall many science themed badges, and now, there are STEM badges!  Plural! How far we have come!

We have several Girl Scouts at Saint Dominic Academy with more joining us in the freshmen class this year! I am certain, if asked, many of our mothers and alumnae would share that they were once Girl Scouts and would say how much the organization changed and shaped their lives. At Saint Dominic Academy, we also have STEM. We are a STEM school; with a program that begins in 7th grade and, as of this September, continues into the 10th grade. At the end of this year, we will earn our accreditation and be an official STEM school as approved by Project Lead The Way.  Last year, two of our young ladies won STEM based awards in the Hudson County Science Fair. In the spring of 2017, SDA will partner with Titan Engineering, a Union based engineering firm founded by an alumna and her husband to host a STEM Workshop for our young ladies. Here at SDA, we are embracing the empowered movement of the Girl Scouts and showcasing our love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. You go, Girl Scouts! You go, SDA girls! #SDASTEM #genSTEMgirls

Healthy Living: Fitbit Obsession?

For over a year, I vowed up and down and left and right that I would not, under any circumstances, buy a FitBit or any other type of “activity tracker.” I knew it would make me neurotic, would most likely increase my anxiety, and would have me literally walking in circles until I hit my desired step count for the day.  I knew all of those things to be true about myself; and yet, if you have seen me thus far this year, you cannot have missed the dreaded device that is fastened to my right arm. Yes indeed, I caved into a flash sale on Zulily and bought an X-Treme Fit Tracker. I’ve been wearing it since August. And while I am no more neurotic than usual, I have to wonder, after wearing it for six weeks, am I any more active either?

Glenn Gaesser, the director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University in Phoenix, told The New York Times last year: “for many people, they’re (activity trackers) inspirational, and if using one gets someone to move more, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s serving a good purpose.” Inspiration is a good thing, on this we can all agree. In fact, it is a good practice to eat healthy and exercise, to monitor how well we sleep and how active we are.  But when it becomes an obsessive behavior, it is then that it also becomes a dangerous one, especially for young ladies who are entering and living through their teenage years.  The obsession our society has with being healthy, being fit, maintaining that lifestyle of healthy living does have the potential to do more harm than good.

So then, the question becomes “ how do we encourage a healthy  lifestyle without creating an obsession with weight and/or body image?” It’s a fine line, one that I am sure many of us walk daily, veering to the left or right of that fine line at times.  More importantly, how do we help our daughters to walk that line, to be healthy and active without becoming neurotic or sick over it? How do we teach them that it’s great to be a size four, but it’s just as great to be an eight or a ten, or a twelve, as long as their hearts are healthy, they are sleeping well, and they are eating right?  I don’t have the right answer to this question; if I did, perhaps I would not have a fitness tracker on my arm. But I do know a few things that will lead the young ladies of Saint Dominic Academy in the right direction.

At SDA, we encourage healthy eating in several ways. We offer salads daily along with balanced meals for lunch. We have eliminated soda and sugary drinks from our cafeteria. Ms.  Mallon, our Health teacher, devotes a marking period each year to the virtues of a healthy diet and complements those lessons with fitness and yoga classes during P.E.  We encourage activity as well; our athletic teams alone speak to the level at which we want our young ladies to be active. All are welcome to try out and play tennis, volleyball, soccer, indoor track, basketball, softball, run cross country, and spring track.  Our competitive dance team has limited spaces for dancers, but our Dance Fitness class, in partnership with the Jersey City Ballet has been added to student schedules wherever possible.  Our annual Walk-A-Thon encourages our young ladies to exercise for a good cause.

Will I continue to wear my activity tracker? I most likely will. Will I try and walk for a half hour each day? I will try, but I will not despair if I don’t get to it on a given day. And that’s the message I want to help your daughters receive as well. We are working to empower our students, your daughters, to be confident and proud young women.  We are also working daily to help them see that fine line between good health practices and unhealthy obsession. Together, we can continue to inspire these young ladies to be active, be healthy, and most importantly, be happy, both with themselves and with the world around them.

An Example For Women Everywhere…

On September 4, 2016, Blessed Mother Teresa was canonized and from now on will be known throughout the world as Saint Teresa of Kolkata.  When those of us my age or even older think of Saint Teresa, we may  best remember her work with AIDS patients in Calcutta, her friendship with Princess Diana, and her tireless efforts to help the impoverished and dying in India. Her stooped figure, time worn face, and white and blue robes are iconic images, at least in my mind, of what it meant to be a very holy woman.

In following the process leading to her canonization, I am certain I was not the only person to be shocked to learn that she suffered, for years, from what the Church calls “the dark night of the soul.”  A plague of spiritual doubt, that she shared with nobody haunted her life. She felt at times, in her own words that “Souls hold no attraction. Heaven means nothing, to me it looks like an empty place. The thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God.”Pray for me please that I keep smiling at him in spite of everything.”  I wonder how many of us could continue on, feeling such as she did day in and day out for years.  And yet, perhaps as a testimony to her eventual path to sainthood, her faith in the goodness of God and the teachings of Jesus allowed her to continue to be a leader for women, both in the sisterhood and laity.

At Saint Dominic Academy, it is always possible that we are shaping the creation of a future saint, but what is a certain fact is that each one of the women who passes through our doors as a student will go forward and make significant changes in the world around them.  Our alumnae and our current students, regardless of whether the direction of their lives leads to comforting the dying on the streets of Calcutta, contribute in their own ways to better the lives of a myriad of people.  The lessons of faith, love of God, and service to others instilled at Saint Dominic Academy leave a lasting impression and cannot help but shape the daily actions and interactions of our young ladies far into the future.  Our mission clearly states “ we empower women for leadership in our global society.”   This is our primary goal at SDA, one I think we achieve daily in the life lessons, both small and large that our faculty, administration and staff work to impart within the walls and halls of our school.

At SDA, every time we pray together as a school community, we call upon Saint Dominic and Saint Catharine of Siena to pray for us. This year, I will at times encourage our young ladies to pray to our newest saint, Saint Teresa; for guidance, for support and for assistance whenever they feel it is needed.  For what better example could our young ladies see reach the status of Sainthood than Mother Teresa; who started out in her calling at the same age some of our young ladies are at right now and who dedicated her life to “helping people in their most difficult conditions and created a mission for religions and lay persons to follow in her footsteps.”

Remembering…15 Years Later

A week ago Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th Attacks.  At mass that Sunday, I reflected on that terrible day 15 years ago and how our country has changed, reshaped, and grown stronger. Fifteen years ago on September 11th, I was two blocks south of Saint Dominic Academy, working as the Assistant Development Director at The Academy of Saint Aloysius.  It was my second year there and school had been open for a week. When the news began breaking, it was a situation school administrators had barely dealt with before. How to tell the students, how and when to send them home, what to say to parents who called, these were all questions that sprung to mind- questions that I am sure were going through the  minds of the administration at Saint Dominic Academy as well.

We each have our own personal memories and sorrows of that day and for those of us who were in the NY / NJ area on 9/11/01, those memories will always be vivid, able to be called to mind at any moment.  As time moves on however, the event becomes a historical one, a tragedy that occurred in the past. Such is the case for our youngest members of the SDA family. The class of 2020, our current 9th grade, are the first generation of high school students who will learn about September 11th as an event that took place before they were born.  When my pastor said that two Sundays ago, I was taken aback. For so many of us, that event seems like yesterday, but the world we live in now is the only world some of our daughters or sons will ever know. They have no concept of “before 9/11”, and what the country, or the world was like before that day.

Over the past fifteen years, we have gotten used to new lingo, such as “high alert”, scrolling news feeds 24/7, which keep us all posted on terror cells, the phrase “axis of evil” being frequently used in news reports and other indications that our world, if not our daily lives, were forever changed.  And yet, it is in our daily lives where the most significant changes can begin and/or continue to take place and it is within the wall of schools, especially schools like Saint Dominic Academy, where our young men and women can learn from history and hope not to ever see it repeated.

In our classrooms, in every subject we cover during the school day, we at Saint Dominic Academy teach much  more than merely tolerance and respect for others. Our message extends beyond those virtues, important as they are, and takes them further. We teach understanding. We teach compassion. We teach acceptance and love and forgiveness.  Our mission statement in part states that our goal is to empower women for leadership in our global society.  Our young ladies, in grades 7-12 hold the future in their hands. Small acts of kindness and acceptance, taught every day by a faculty who can recall histories past  mistakes, will go a long way to shaping the lives of each of our students, so that they  bring to the future a Christian message of love, kindness and understanding for all.

God bless America.

Transitions…A New Year

I spent a fast paced 48 hours this summer reading the newly released script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on my Kindle.  While I will not spoil the plot for those among you who are fans, I have to say that reading the book, so long after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows in July of 2007, sparked a feeling of unease in me. What if the characters I had followed for years were now different? What if they had not “grown up” into the ideal people that they were heading out to be almost 10 years ago?  After all, I was a different person in 2007 and perhaps, changes in the world and in life would re-shape J.K. Rowling’s characters as well. As I pulled up the script on my Kindle, I had to ask myself “What if it’s not all I expect it to be?”

As a new school year begins here at Saint Dominic Academy, I wonder how many of you and your daughters are asking the same question in your minds and hearts. Transitions are hard; for that 7th or 9th grader who is saying goodbye to the safe world where she existed and coming to SDA for the first time. Transitions are also hard as 7th moves to 8th, 8th moves up to 9th,  9th moves into 10th and 10th heads to 11th; new teachers, new subjects and perhaps new friendships that bloom as the final year looms ahead, rising up in the forefront.  And, how to talk of difficult transitions without reflecting on our seniors; who will face this year the first major transition of their lives- the movement from high school to college, from child to young adult, from parents house to dorm room? Your daughters, whether they ask aloud or not must be wondering as we start this September if the year will meet all the expectations laid out before them: their own, yours for your child, and ours as a school.

It’s a lot to live up to; a challenge even harder than Rowling faced when she chose to “resurrect” some beloved characters for one final curtain call in 2016. (No spoilers, I promise).  But here at Saint Dominic Academy, we are all about rising above challenges, exceeding expectations, and ensuring that each young lady has the most engaging, intelligent and memorable experience while she walks these halls. I encourage your daughters, do not fear the transitions that wait ahead this year; face them with confidence and with the knowledge that as women of distinction, they can achieve anything.  The year may be different, it may bring the unexpected, but “anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve” (Rowling).