Senior Assembly: Remarks


You must find happiness where you are!



Moana

We started our year together, your last here at Saint Dominic Academy, with a theme inspired by the movie Moana. And I can think of no better way to address you today than to reflect not only on all the happiness you have experienced during your senior year here, but also, the other important lessons that a movie like Moana can teach you. First and foremost, I sincerely hope that each of you can sit before me here today, close your eyes, and recall one moment of happiness you found this year. After all, that was all of our goals, yours and mine together from September onward. While I am sure you can also recall moments of sadness, of doubt and of anxiety- as I can as well, I am going to ask you to reflect for just a second on that moment of happiness you have called to mind. … Carry it with you, into next week, as you get ready for the Prom. Carry it with you, as you go to graduation practices. Carry it with you, at our mass on May 28, and of course, at graduation on June 2nd. Remember that moment of pure happiness you had as a senior at Saint Dominic Academy and keep it close to your heart; as close as Moana kept the heart of Te’ Fiti.

And now, for those lessons…

1. Listen to that voice inside you; it’s your heart talking to you. Follow it- wherever it takes you in life. The road ( or waves) may be bumpy and you may falter on the path, but as long as that voice inside you tells you to keep going- keep your head up and sail onward.

2. Never ever be afraid of feeling different.  Didn’t Moana’s grandmother embody that idea?  She did not care if the village thought she might “drift too far”…she knew that as long as she was happy with herself, that was what mattered. For all of us women, that is a hard lesson to learn- and if you can truly learn it as early as possible, then your life will be full of joy.

3. You are stronger than you think.  Moana sailing across an ocean—is it that much different than going away to college- leaving your family behind, embarking on a new voyage or journey?  There will be times next year when you think to yourself “ I cannot do this”, when you say to a friend “ I literally cannot do this anymore.” Yes, you can. You can do anything you put your mind to; remember that always!

4. When you make a mistake, fix it.  You owe it to yourself, you owe it to others.  There’s no shame in making a mistake, for any reason. It happens to all of us- it happens every single day. Not one of us is perfect.  What makes us good people? The fact that we can own up to our mistakes and do our best to fix them.

And finally and most importantly-  The ones we love never leave us, they are in our hearts always.

I can tell you this is 100% true. Those who touched your lives in one way or another will always remain with you; their influence will shape the woman you become.  Whether a love one has left for a better place with God, or whether you and the friend whose hand you are holding now are going to be separated by many miles next year…if love exists, then you will never be without those you love.  Listen quietly, at night, when your soul is at peace. Your loved ones will talk to you, will guide you, and will put you on the path to become who you are meant to be.

I will miss you very much next year; and if you need Saint Dominic Academy for anything…”set the course…you know the way”

Athletic Honors at SDA!

Two years ago, at my first Athletic Dinner as Head of School, I told the following story about our Athletic Director, John Nagel:

In 1997, I was 19 years old and in my 2nd year of college. I also began working at the Mayor’s Office in Jersey City. I remained there until I was 22, first as an intern and then progressing to the administrative assistant to the Director of Communications. It was during my tenure working for the City of Jersey City that I first had the pleasure of meeting Mr. John Nagel. A busy man, always in a hurry to head into this meeting or to that event, (much like today, 20 years later!) he always had a moment to stop and say hello. If something great was accomplished by a member of Communications, he was the first to give a quick but thoughtful word of praise or congratulations. If I needed information for a press release or a seal of approval from his Department on an upcoming promotion for an event, Mr. Nagel, (as I called him back then) was always able to assist me in order to get the job done well and to ensure that the Mayor’s Office looked good!

How nice it has been this year, twenty years later to be able to once again work together with John Nagel, our Director of Athletics.  Time has changed both of us, now I call him John and he jokingly refers to me as “Madame President”, but the same exceptional working relationship has not changed.  The dedication to the job and the effort to ensure that SDA’s athletic program both looks and is exceptional has not changed. As a member of the SDA family Mr. Nagel has worked to uphold the mission of Saint Dominic Academy and its commitment to producing well rounded young women. He reaches out to girls who otherwise may not get involved and encourages them to reach their full athletic potential….I think every young lady who has played on one of our sports teams can walk away saying “I had fun!” That’s Mr. Nagel’s goal as AD; to make athletics fun. And hey, if we have an impressive collection of trophies here at 2572, then so much the better!

Today, as we prepare to celebrate our student athletes at our annual Athletic Dinner tonight, I am so very pleased and proud to be able to share the news that Hudson County has bestowed up our beloved Coach Nagel another accolade to add to his list of accomplishments. Last Tuesday evening, the running path at Lincoln Park was dedicated to John Nagel, in honor of his over 40 years of service to track and field as well as to girls’ athletics in Hudson County.

Tonight, at the dinner, he will speak very little about all he does for the young women at Saint Dominic Academy. His “MO” is to take a backseat always and let our young ladies shine…as well they should, for we have dedicated, determined and fearless athletes here at Saint Dominic Academy. However, I would be remiss if I did not laud this achievement; through my blog this morning and in my remarks at the end of the dinner later tonight.

Congratulations John, on this outstanding recognition and honor. The alumnae who have had the pleasure of running for you over the past 42 years know it is richly well deserved. Thank you for your dedication to Catholic education, to education for young women, and for teaching the young ladies of Saint Dominic Academy to “run like a girl” for many generations. We are lucky to know you!

Mother’s Day 2019 …

Well…isn’t that the truth!? Am I right, moms? As my own daughter gets older ( 8 in August!) and tests her boundaries, with little eye rolls, sassy hands on her hips, the dreaded foot stamping…I realize, my mom was right about everything! I love my little girl more than anything in the world, but when she gets into “that mood”, I look at her much the way Victor Frankenstein looked at his creation, as in “ What have I created here!?” And then I look at my mother, who is smiling in a way that lets me know she is remembering the past and seeing she and I at that same time period. Suddenly I realize; I have a mini-me and what I am putting up with is just what I put my mother through a little over 35 years ago.

Moms of teenage girls…our 7th– 11th grade moms here at SDA…I know you will tell me it gets worse before it gets better! Moms of our 12th grade girls, awaiting the moment in August where your little girl, the one you sent to kindergarten with ribbons in her hair and a cutesy lunch box and back pack goes off to college, I know you will tell me it goes too fast, enjoy every minute of it. I think my own mom would tell me an honest mix of both of those statements: Yes, it goes too fast, but no, you are NOT going to enjoy every minute of it. Goodness knows, I am sure there were many moments in the past 42 years that my mother did not particularly enjoy where I was concerned, but looking back now all I can remember is that she has ALWAYS been there. We are each other’s constant contact, line of support, and best friend- there is nothing that happens in my life, good or bad, that I do not want to talk over with my mother.

It is hard, even now as I write this to fully capture in words all that my mother has brought to my life and all she continues to bring to my life every day. I know for a fact, I would not be sitting in this office at Saint Dominic Academy if it were not for her constant guidance, influence and support. I consider myself a strong woman. However, I also know that I would be lost without the daily grace and love that my mother brings to my life.

Mothers who are reading this, I would imagine that many of you feel the same way about your own mothers. Whether you are still lucky enough to have your mother with your, or whether this coming Sunday, you will spend some quiet time with loving memories of your mother, you know the love I am talking about that exists between a mother and daughter. I know you cherish it just as dearly as I do.

Daughters of SDA, you may yet be too young to understand that the bond you have with your mother is a bond that will not exist with anyone else…until you are blessed with a child of your own. So for now, just trust me when I tell you, as both a mom and a daughter… your mother is your first line of defense, your biggest cheerleader, and the woman who will shape the way you mother your own child one day in the future. Even when you fight with your mothers, (and, of course you will) and even when they fight back (and of course…they will!), there are no words strong enough to capture the love your mother carries within her heart for you. It is all encompassing, it is infinite and it is yours whenever you need it most. I know that, as a mother, because I learned it from my mother.

Motherhood is a thankless job at times, but it is also the best job in the world. Every one of us mothers know…that the true definition of mother is this: one who gives of her heart daily without expecting to or wanting to be thanked. As we head into Mother’s Day this coming weekend, I do think that all of us daughters take a moment to look our mothers in the eye and say thank you for all they do for us and for how much they love us.

Even then, it is not enough, but daughters, it is the best we can do. And so, to my own mother, a very public thank you: Mom, if I can be half as good a mother to Abigail as you are to me, then I will be a great mother. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my first and best friend. I love you!

And to all of our SDA mothers, who wipe away tears after a heartbreak and who listen to the stories of teenage drama, and who find that extra fund to make her little girl’s dress or shoe or whatever dreams come true, I thank you. Thank you for raising such beautiful young women, each day they walk the halls of SDA they are a testament to how wonderful each of you are. And I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days because now, as a mother myself, I truly understand how much you deserve it!

Changing Perspectives…

I was way back when it was on, a huge devotee of the television show L O S T. Yes, I will freely admit it; I have the L O S T encyclopedia at home and any young lady who has passed through my Siena Honors English class knows that “fear only gets five seconds.” Over the past few weeks, I rediscovered L O S T on my Hulu and decided to give it another go around; it had been a long time since I visited the island, got involved with “The Others” and discovered that Desmond might truly be the world’s constant. If you were a fan when it was on, another visit is recommended. And, if you for some reason were lost while L O S T was on and did not get to know Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Charlie and the rest of the island crew, then I recommend heading over to Hulu to watch now.

And yet, what has caught my attention the most is how much a person’s perspective can change as we grow older, grow wiser and our lives move in different ways. When I first watched the show, I was an ardent despiser of the character of Michael, father of Walt (who is ten years old when the plane crashed on the island.) I was not alone in my dislike; most fans could not stand Michael; stubborn, thick headed at times, and solely focused. He had no sense of teamwork, minimal sense of how to take other’s feelings into consideration, and looked at offers of comfort and help as affronts to his ability to parent his child. When he did something truly terrible ( no spoilers, I promise!) at the end of a season, I was shocked and appalled by his behavior, but not surprised. After all, in the early seasons, wasn’t Michael supposed to be one of the characters we never really warmed up to?

This time around, almost ten years after the show ended, it is amazing how my perspective has changed. I was not a parent when I first watched L O S T. I am now. And that changes everything! Now, re-watching, I see Michael as heroic, single minded in his determination, yes…but his determination is to ensure that regardless of what happens to himself or to any other adult, his son is kept safe and is able to somehow find a way off that island. (Does he or doesn’t he? You’ll have to watch!) I tell you this story, not because I wanted to blog about L O S T, but because it truly struck me how my perspective on something could undergo such a monumental change in less than a decade.

And so, that thought led to (as if often does) other thoughts about changing perspective and as I write this blog to be published on April 29, I have our class of 2019 in mind. For their perspective, and yours as their parents is about to undergo a monumental change as well. That shift in perspective, from high school student to young adult out in the world, and from parent of a girl in a uniform to parent of a young woman heading off to college is quite a shift. When you sent these ladies to us, many of them wore ponytails and braces, still looking like their 8th grade graduation photos. And they themselves saw children when they looked into the mirror. Four short years later, what a different perspective each of our graduating seniors must have; on themselves, on what they want to do in the future, and on life itself.

These past four years have been years of growth and change for each of our young ladies and as they finish their very last month of high school, it is astounding to think that they have celebrated so many victories, overcome so many obstacles, and had so many varied experiences in the past four years. Every situation each girl encountered during their time here at Saint Dominic Academy, whether it was a friendship forged, a heart broken, a successful college acceptance, or a failing grade had an impact on the young woman who is now heading out into the world. How we see these young ladies has changed from 9th grade until now. Imagine, for a moment, how their self perspective has changed over this time!

I know, as a mom of a girl, that the young lady who graduates in a month will always be your little girl and that perspective will never change. Take the time, I encourage you, during the month of May to talk to the beautiful young woman who is about to embark on her path to young adulthood; ask her how her own life view has changed during these culminating years and what her dreams are for the future. I hear your daughters talk…they have amazing things to say! Let their voices over the month of May leave a lasting impression on you!

#countdowntillgraduation #classof2019

Happy Easter!

We rejoice together in the Risen Lord!

On behalf of Saint Dominic Academy, Happy Easter!

We will carry you in prayer this entire spring!

Reflections for Holy Week…

The importance of Holy Week does not change from year to year…it is the most somber and Holy seven days of the year in the Catholic Church. When I reflected on the reverence of this week last year, I received a great deal of positive feedback on the thoughts I shared. I feel perhaps, the reflections from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday that I meditated on last year and shared with my readers should be shared again as we once again enter into this time of prayer and reflection.

This week, the Catholic church enters into the most Holy Week of the year; a final meal among friends, a reflection and betrayal in the Garden, a trial, a death sentence, and the long, painful walk to death on the Cross. These days commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ and ask each of us to pause and reflect on His sacrifice for all mankind. It is important for us all to reflect and repent during this darkened time so that we can truly embrace the Light and Life that comes forth in Joy on Easter Sunday.

Jesus knew, when He traveled to Jerusalem for the final time, that the end of his life was drawing close. We know, from Church readings that while Jesus was committed to His Father’s plan for the salvation of humankind, he still carried within His own heart great fear. We would expect nothing else; the fear of dying in such a painful manner, the fear of betrayal by a close friend, the fear of being mocked, ridiculed and beaten for His words of love would cause even the bravest of us to perhaps turn and flee the fate that awaited in Jerusalem. However, we also know from the Gospel that Jesus did not turn and flee; His presence at the Last Supper, where He washed the disciples’ feet, where He shared with close companions His Body and Blood were actions that signified His acceptance of the plan His Father had in store for Him. And although He asked in prayer to have the cup “pass from my lips”, Jesus turned His cheek to accept Judas’ kiss of betrayal and walked willingly toward His fate at Golgotha.

This week, each of us should take comfort in the suffering of our Lord, for it is that very suffering that should give us hope in difficult times. Whether we are mourning the end of a relationship, the loss of a friendship, a physical illness, the death of a loved one, or even a small sadness that touches our heart only and leaves other hearts unmoved, our sadness is not unnoticed by God. We must remember, this week and always, that the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus and His agony on the cross give all of us hope for a better tomorrow. When we offer our individual sadness, our silent pain, our tearful mourning to God, we are reminded that if we trust in our Father, His love will sustain us, not just during the trials of Holy Week leading to the Easter celebration, but always, for His sacrifice for us is continual.

As we wait this week for the stone to be removed from the tomb early on Sunday morning, let us be thankful for the sacrifice God has made for each of us and keep each other in prayer daily. We may not know the sufferings of others, but together, we can offer our sadness to God and receive the gift of joy on Easter Sunday.

In prayerful anticipation for Easter…

A Gala Celebration…

This past Saturday evening, Saint Dominic Academy celebrated its 20th Annual Gala.  This year, we recognized all of our past honorees at a “Hall of Fame” celebration. Many of our past inductees were able to join us as we celebrated 140 years of Dominican Tradition at Saint Dominic Academy. Dinner, dancing, silent auction items, a performance by our very own Dominoes, and our Fund a Scholar portion of the evening were all highlights of our signature fundraising event. It was my honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to see so many of our past distinguished honorees together once again to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Whether you were there in person or could only join in the spirit of the celebration, we at Saint Dominic Academy say “cheers to 140 years” and are always so grateful to each of you who have given so tirelessly to our beloved school. We celebrate each of our past honorees and here today I share all of their names once again!

2018
Cathy Carnevale ‘79
Carol Ann and George T. Taite, Esq., P’14

2016
Stephanie Barbi ‘64
BCB Community Bank
Marie Pompeo-Maffia ‘79

2015
Dorethy Hughes McGrath ‘46
Vicki McDonald Lindorff ‘72
Lynne Seborowski ‘01

2014
Julie M. DiGioia, M.D., F.A.C.S
Sister Patricia Hogan, O.P. ‘59
Susan Mulvaney Odenthal ‘73

2013
Jessica Iorio ‘02
Maryanne Kelleher ‘90
Matthew Laracy P’92, ’97, ’99, ’01, ‘05

2012
The Hon. Kevin G. Callahan, JD, P’93
Mary Ann Molinari ‘67
Marie J. Varley, Ed.D. ‘56

2011
Joseph Napoli
Patricia Salmon
Valerie Vlahakis

2010
Sister Maureen Kelly, F.S.P.
Dr. Elizabeth J. Neary, ‘73

2009
The Mother’s Club
Honorary Guest Carol Higgins Clark

2008
All Past Principals

2007
Joan Hall ‘56
Bianca Beldini ‘90
Doreen McAndrew DiDomenico ‘80

2006
Anne Dalton O’Brien ‘65
Kathy Wynn Barnitt ‘59
Alumnae in the Police Department /
Fire Department/Emergency Services

2005
Jerramiah & Maureen Healy P’96, ‘99
Carolyn Zelop, M.D. ‘79

2004
Nancy Kist, Esq. ‘82
Peter Weiss

2003
Jane Albert
Ellyn McColgan ‘71

2002
Joan Duane Quigley ‘52
Esmeralda Albano-Mendoza

2001
James McLaughlin P’78, ’79, ’81, ‘82
Brian & Cynthia Bergwall-Moran ‘60

2000
Sister Elise Redmerski, O.P. ‘55
Maurice Walsh P’67, ’73, ‘76
Kenneth McPherson P’75, ’76, ‘81

1999
Sister Bettyanne Schultz, O.P. ‘49
Alfred & Antoinette Golden ‘57

Advice to the Junior Class…

This week, I have a guest blogger- Saint Dominic Academy Senior Hannah Dobronsky. A graduate of All Saints Catholic Academy and the recipient of the Siena Scholarship at SDA, Hannah has spent the past four years making a name for herself. In the classroom, on the tennis court, as a student leader in the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Student Ambassadors, she has been a gift to our school community. She recently penned some advice to the members of the class of 2020 and when I read it, I asked her permission to share. I am pleased and proud to present Hannah’s advice to the juniors.

Dear Juniors:

Here is a list of 12 tips that I learned throughout the college process and I think they can be really helpful to you!

1. Make sure you register as soon as possible for whatever SAT you are taking. You probably want to take it with your friends, so signing up early helps you get a seat before they are all filled up.

2. Check out the ACT if the SAT is not for you! Most colleges accept both and weigh them the same. The style of the ACT might work better for you.

3. There are a lot of test-optional schools, more than you would think. If you feel like you are a bad test taker, make sure to check out test optional schools. And always remember, you are so much more than your scores, so don’t get discouraged!

4. Find out if any of your schools require or recommend SAT subject tests. For the most part, these tests are given the same dates as the regular SAT , and you register through the College Board, just like the regular SAT.

5. Start working on your Common App early. Giving yourself enough time can help you to make your essay the best it can be. I started mine in June and fourteen drafts later, I finished in October. I would NOT recommend writing that many, I’m just a bit of a perfectionist. ☺

6. Visit all the colleges you are thinking about before senior year starts. This helps you narrow down which schools to actually apply to. You may think you like a school from their website or family member who attends, but you might get a bad vibe or feeling when you visit the campus. Once senior year starts, you will be extremely busy, so I recommend visiting a lot of schools in the summer.

7. Keep a list, (in docs or notes) of all the schools you are/might be applying to. Be sure to include whether it requires a writing supplement, an interview, subject tests, what the deadline is, and how much the application costs.

8. Consider applying Early Action. Not all schools offer it, but it is a non-binding option that lets you have your admissions decision in December or January as opposed to March or April. The deadline is usually in November and I applied Early Action to all schools that offered it. This helped me a lot and I ended up submitting all my applications before Christmas.

9. See which of your schools require the CSS profile, and additional financial aid form that can be accessed through College Board.

10. Start making a list of all your extra curricular activities: sports, clubs, awards, honor societies, leadership positions, volunteer positions, paid work, and anything else you contributed time to. You have done so many amazing things throughout high school and Common App wants to know it all!

11. Ask teachers for recommendations in the summer or early September. You want to give them enough time, especially if you are applying early anywhere.

12. Take a deep breath! This whole process is very complicated and overwhelming and your mental health is more important than stressing out when you have such a long way to go. I promise, you are going to end up right where you belong, and no matter where you go, your experience is what you make of it.

Good luck and never be afraid to reach out to the seniors if you have any questions about anything!

From Hannah

Sound advice from one of our truly stellar seniors! Thanks Hannah for blogging for me this week!

Seniors are Disney Bounding…

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

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

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

Just Keep Swimming- Finding Nemo

Always let your conscience be your guide- Pinocchio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women Of Mystery…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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