Inside Ms. Degnan’s classroom…

For the past few weeks, my merry band of 9th grade honors students and I have been studying the novel Treasure Island. As we are halfway through our novel we have encountered some rather fierce and black hearted buccaneers thus far. For many of my students, the pirate icons they best associate with are the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow or Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean fame.Fun to teach in and of itself each year, however this year I had the opportunity to talk with the young ladies about how at times we as a country alter or re-shape history.

When the students who participated in the Disney YES program and I were down at the Magic Kingdom, we are all sad to see that the much beloved Pirate ride was “closed for renovations.” Most annoyed at not being able to ride one of my favorite attractions, I took to the internet to find out what the change was. Surprised by what I learned, I quickly realized how the change made to the iconic ride would be a wonderful teaching tool in my Siena Honors classroom.

My young ladies read an article explaining that the “Wench Auction” scene would be removed from the ride and would be replaced with a scene of a fearsome woman pirate helping to pillage and sack a town. The link for the article is here and please do read it before moving forward…

Interesting yes? I thought so and the question I posed for my students was this one…

Do you agree or disagree with Disney’s changing of the scene?  Is it an attempt to “re-write “ history to remove unfavorable depictions of how women were treated or is its purpose to showcase that there were female pirates in our history? Today, I would like to share with you some snippets of their responses…

Although the auction scene may contradict our beliefs now, it is accurate according to history. – Olivia

I feel altering the auction scene is disregarding history…the ride and it’s experience should  be as authentic as possible. – Alyssa

I feel (Disney) is trying to add a part of history that is often overlooked. – Persia

You cannot erase history, you cannot disregard that pirates disrespected women. – Hannah

If a child sees a woman with a rope around her neck…it is not the best image for Disney to put out there. – Courtney

I would not want my child to see a woman being sold.- Nas

I believe Disney is finally giving female pirates their proper place in history- Christina

By changing the dialogue to “We Wants The Rum” instead of “We Wants the Redhead”,  they(children) will still see a common stereotype of pirate behavior. – Olivia S.

They are erasing history, which does bother me…Disney is overanalyzing the ride. – Isabella

They (pirates) take advantage of women and treat them as objects. This is pirate history and we cannot erase it. – Milani

It ( poor treatment of women) is a topic that should be brought up…but NOT in a Disney ride. – Megan

Changing the scene …. Was to do justice to the historical female pirates forgotten through time. – Avery

Interesting and varied viewpoints, yes? While I did not share where I stood on this topic with the young ladies, I was very impressed by all they had to say. That is the gift of Saint Dominic Academy…at only the end of their 9th grade year, these young women can examine an issue thoughtful, make a strong argument and support it. The first stages of empowerment are right here…in the classrooms at SDA!

Remarks from the 19th Annual Gala

This past weekend, Saint Dominic Academy host their 19th Annual Gala.  Today, I would like to share briefly with you my opening remarks at that event…

Welcome to Saint Dominic Academy’s 19th Annual Leadership Gala.  As Head of School at Saint Dominic Academy it is my pleasure to celebrate with you this evening, as we honor distinguished alumnae and friends of Saint Dominic Academy.

As I have said often in by weekly blog posts, I am a big believer in tradition. Tradition is something everyone in the room is familiar with and all of you tonight are very lucky to be connected to a school that is so steeped in Dominican tradition and Dominican excellence.

Tonight, we are gathered together to honor devoted alumna, Cathy Carnevale as well as proud past parents and current Board of Trustee member; George and Carol Taite. As we honor them here tonight, I would like us to briefly pause for a moment to honor everyone in this room-

Each and every one of you are a gift to Saint Dominic Academy and through your generosity this evening, you will work to ensure that our school will have lasting impact on the lives of girls, just as it has since 1878.  You presence here tonight also ensures that the school’s tradition of excellence in education will carry far into the future

Anyone who knows me, know there are three very important reasons that make me so very happy to be a part of Saint Dominic Academy.

I believe in Catholic education.

I believe in girls.  

And I believe that it is in all girls schools where young women can truly become empowered to lead and to change society for the better.   

Tonight, let us celebrate the generations of women from Saint Dominic Academy, 1878 to the present who have left their impact upon so many others. Let us come together to ensure that we can continue to work to impact the lives of many future generations of students.  Thank you so much for being here and I sincerely wish all of you a most enjoyable evening.

Lounging Around…at SDA!

The long term goal of our Parent Association this year was to create a space just for our seniors; a place where they could relax and unwind, a place to study and socialize, and most importantly, a place just for them as they are the leaders of the student body.  Alumnae from years past may remember certain senior classes claiming the legendary Phone Booth as their mini lounge and more recent alumnae may have fond memories of Student Council Executive Board members allowing other seniors to hang in the STUCO Office, but those are legends of the past.

This week, I am proud to announce that our Senior Lounge, located in the rear of ELAN, in what used to be Saint Catherine, is fully furnished,  stocked with a mini fridge and microwave, and will soon be receiving a flat screen TV for SENIORS ONLY. The TV comes as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Anderson, whose daughter Megan will be able to enjoy the lounge space next year.  There is nothing like the allure of a place being “off limits” to draw curious eyes, and I have seen more than a few underclasswomen taking the back stairs for no reason in order to briefly walk through the coveted Senior Lounge. All in good time, ladies…one day in the future it will be your own private space.

For now, the movable plush couches, two papasan chairs and the ability to store snacks and lunch,  eat up meals, or simply relax during a free period belongs to the Class of 2018. These young ladies were patient with us all year as we worked to create the lounge bit, by bit.  It is due to the very hard work of our Parent Association Board, led by President Mary Dowden, mother of Megan who graduates this spring, that this lounge was even possible. To every parent who supported a Parent Association event, fundraiser or activity this year, I wish to thank you on behalf of the Class of 2018, and all of the classes that follow.  This space was much needed, long overdue, and a true gift to all of the young ladies as they face the stress and hectic nature of senior year.

As Head of School, I am always hopeful that the senior class this year and for years to come will invite me to lounge around if they are watching something of interest…but I will not hold my breath! These young ladies, the  Class of 2018, have EARNED this relaxing space after all of their hard work and I very much hope all of your daughters will enjoy it one day as well.

Keep your eye out, I sure, for the #selfiesfromtheseniorlounge. I imagine it will be coming soon to a social media site near you!

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!