Reserve a Seat…Named Chairs in ELAN!

This November, when the curtain rises in ELAN, audience members will be transported back to the pre World War II days of Austria, to meet a family in desperate need of a new and loving mother. For those not familiar with this brief description, the timeless show “The Sound of Music” will be brought to life over the course of two nights by the talented young women of Saint Dominic Academy and the talented young men of Saint Peter’s Prep.

In the past few years, ELAN has been home to many a varied and magical setting; from the far off realm of OZ, to the 1930’s streets of New York City, from a wildly competitive spelling bee in Putnam County, to the island paradise from “Once On This Island.”  As we continue to expand our Dramatics program, adding a Drama class this year in addition to our Dance class that is partnered with the Jersey City Ballet Academy, it is ELAN itself that is in need of some “magic” in order to grow with our growing program.

For those who hold Saint Dominic Academy near and dear to their hearts, ELAN will always be a special and magical place; one used for assemblies, for classes at times, and for beloved gatherings with classmates during one’s time at the Academy. And, at this time, we would like to invite you to partner with us to make ELAN an even more beautiful and welcoming space, not just for our Arts programs, but as a space for all who visit SDA.

Our wonderful Parents Association spent the past two years working toward a fundraising goal to air condition ELAN.  That goal was met, and by September of 2017, the room will have air conditioning!  With that major accomplishment completed, we partnered with a generous parent volunteer to have our sound system and microphones brought up to date.  And now, we have committed ourselves to a “beautification” of this classic room; new flooring, new paint and trim, and we hope, new chairs for all of the events held in ELAN.

Today, it is my hope that you will consider making a gift toward this renovation project, as we are fully committed to seeing it through to completion by September of 2017. Any donation amount would be most gratefully accepted.  You are also invited today to consider being a “Named Sponsor” of this project. Donors of $1,000 or more will have a “named chair” in ELAN, which will be placed in the first two rows for any performance event held in our venue.

Today may be the day when you choose to leave your legacy at SDA and have a chair in our performance space named for you, a generous benefactor to your beloved school. Our Advancement Office is available to answer any questions you have about this new way to get involved and give back to SDA.

Please…make your gift to ELAN today and work with us to see the stage light up in beauty for many future performances!  

Character Counts!

Within the past 15 years, many schools, public, private and charter have spent time and resources into implementing and publicizing their “Character Education” programs.  What exactly is “character education?” may be the question in many parents’ minds.  In short, school-based character education programs are programs implemented in elementary, middle, or high schools that involve deliberate, proactive attempts to foster positive character development. Character education programs focus on instilling, teaching, or promoting a range of core values; also known more commonly as  ethical values, moral values and virtues. Character education programs are primarily designed to promote values that may be generalized across contexts.

As I read and re-read that definition, I am always surprised by how much promoting goes into a school wide “Character Education” program. Having worked for a period of years at an elementary charter school, I know well how much emphasis we put on our character education program and how much the parents valued and appreciated the program. It was indeed, a selling point of the school.  With my heart and my mind rooted in Catholic education, I cannot help but wonder: Isn’t Character Education what Catholic School has been about since its inception?

From research, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the most successful character education programs are the comprehensive ones. Comprehensive character education programs are aimed at affecting the school as a community by integrating character education into the full spectrum of school activities and school life through such means as  involvement across curricular topics, discipline practices, after-school activities, and other such school functions;  participation by teachers, principals, school staff, parents, and especially students in program design and implementation; and  multiple approaches to teaching character.  That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  And while the definition uses a lot of buzz words and educational terms, isn’t what it’s really saying is to teach kindness, compassion, and concern for others?  Hmmm….very interesting…

Saint Dominic Academy, and all other Catholic educational institutions on both the primary and secondary level are doing this on a daily basis and have been doing it for as long as they have been established as schools.  Not only in our religious studies classes, but within the entire climate of the school, an emphasis is placed on good character, on compassion for others, on assisting the less fortune, and on the foundation that kindness does indeed count and that honesty is always the best policy. We, and indeed all Catholic schools are the “inventors” one might say of character education, because we build our educational programs around that goal, rather than incorporate that goal into our already established educational program.

I am of firm belief that parents are children’s primary moral educators. What Catholic schools have always worked to do is to ensure that the young people who pass through their doors emerge as the best they can be by creating a school environment where religious values are taught, civic virtues are expected, and good character is modeled, celebrated, and continually practiced. We have always been partners with parents on the development of moral character and that will continue to be the goal of Saint Dominic Academy and of all Catholic schools far into the future.

And so, when parents are looking for a school that teaches good character; they need look no further than Saint Dominic Academy for a strong foundation in morals, virtues and good character. We do not have a “character education program”. Rather we, at Saint Dominic Academy, develop the moral character of our young ladies at all times, in every classroom and in every aspect of our school community. Character does indeed count at Saint Dominic Academy!

Last Call for Bets!

If much of this blog looks familiar this week, it’s because it was, in part, published four weeks ago when SDA started accepting reservations for our SDA DAY AT THE RACES at Monmouth Park.  At last, our event is here; this coming Sunday, July 23rd, we are hosting our first annual racetrack event.  We are hoping to see alumnae, families, friends of the school and anyone who loves a day at Monmouth Park.

Want more information? Then read (or re-read) onward and when you are finished reading, visit the alumnae tab of our website: and purchase your racetrack tickets today! I’ll meet you there!

The place to be this summer opened in 1870, only 8 years before Saint Dominic Academy opened its doors. 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. (And, if you are a horse racing expert; find me and help me place my bets please!)

On Sunday, July 23rd, we will host our First Annual SDA Day at the Races at Monmouth Park!  We will celebrate this day with family and friends; children are welcome.  There will be bounce houses, clowns, pony rides, face painting and a playground for the future generation of SDA little girls (and their brothers too of course!)  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. The cost is $15.00 and children 18 and under are free.

“Face” Lifting at SDA

With my 40th birthday less than 10 days away, I have become the “go to” person about skin cream, sun protection, water to stay hydrated, hand lotion, and the like.  Perhaps many of us women cannot help it; when we wake up and 40 is staring us in the face, we suddenly appreciate how young we truly looked at 25 or 30.  And, no matter how many people tell me that “life begins at 40”, I am still stockpiling Oil of Olay every time it’s on sale. I am smart enough to realize in my mind that when I look back later in life what I will remember most is how much I enjoyed this time, not how stressed I was over one eye wrinkle or the first strand of grey year. Time does move quickly (as evidenced by the fact that my “little” daughter is going to be SIX…talk about time flying!), and although I joke often these days about dreading turning 40, I know it is, like every other birthday, a time of celebration and of giving thanks for another successful and happy year! That’s the positive mindset I am working to keep in the forefront this July.  After all, I am determined to age gracefully, and with a smile all the time!

Walking through the halls of SDA these days is what made me think of both face-lifting and graceful aging. For there is no doubt that the school is getting a bit of a face lift this summer; fresh paint in classrooms, new floors in the front hall, a new look in ELAN for both floors and walls and, very exciting-  air conditioning in ELAN thanks to the effort of a two year fundraising drive from our SDA Parent Association.

Even our beloved Madonna Hall is being touched up ever so slightly; cleaned, re-stuffed cushions, re-hung drapes. ( And a big thank you to Kathy Barnitt for helping to make that happen!)  Once that is all finished, on the outside,  SDA will still be the same beautiful building it has been for decades; a grand dowager of a school, sitting on her tree lined corner and waiting to welcome her “daughters” back in September of 2017.  It is only  the few of us who are here on the inside,  who see how much work it takes to maintain our beloved SDA, to keep her up to date, looking stunning and serving as a welcoming beacon both for current students and our beloved alumnae, should they have time to stop “home” to visit.

What we do here during the summer; our “face lifting” of SDA as it were, could not be possible without the support of all who give so generously to the Saint Dominic Academy Annual Fund.   Every single gift made to the Annual Fund is a testament to those who love this beloved school and who want to help move it forward into the future.  As I celebrate this month, not only the (dreaded) 4-0 but also the conclusion of my first year as Head of School and the start of what I hope will be an even more exciting and eventful second year, I would be most remiss not to use this weekly space to say THANK YOU!

Our generous donors, alumnae, parents, and friends of SDA, I thank you from the entire current SDA Family for your gifts to our Annual Fund this year. You are helping to shape the lives of future generations of empowered women- ones who will embrace each monumental event in their own lives, confident that they are successful, strong, and spirited young ladies of Saint Dominic Academy!

Fourth of July Reflection

This week, my words alone cannot do full justice to the importance of the holiday we celebrate on July 4th, 2017.  From that date in 1776 to tomorrow, when we commemorate our freedom, a few of the most important original words, which may be the most inspiring words ever penned in the history of our nation, should be given a space here for consideration, thought and reflection.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — Thomas Jefferson.

And so today, on this American celebration of Independence, let us remember the sacrifices made over two hundred and forty years ago by a small band of patriots so that the colonies could be free.  Let us remember the countless men and women of America, who are not celebrating this occasion with their families, nor perhaps even on their native soil, because they are securing the freedom of others in all areas of the world.  And let us remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that America could truly be one nation, under God.

God bless you all, and God bless America!