June 28

When Abigail was a toddler and young child and she outgrew something- a jacket, a pair of sneakers, a sweater…I’d say to her “What happened to my baby?” Her response never varied; she’d always reply “ She turned into a BIG girl!” And today, as I start my sixth year as Head of School at Saint Dominic Academy, that truly has become a reality. While she’s been a part of the school community in one way or another, with the Dominoes, in the musicals, and just a presence since age three, today my “big girl” begins the Rising Leaders program at Saint Dominic Academy and I could not be more excited or proud. 

This summer program, geared for young ladies in grades 4-8, has been an exceptional one since it was launched some time ago. Curricular offers vary from year to year, but what never changes is the overall sense of self confidence, self worth, and empowerment that is fostered in every young woman who comes through the program. Those who attend one summer are always likely to return again the following summer and we find ourselves welcoming more and more of our Rising Leaders program alumnae into our 9th grade each year. 

For the summer of 2021, our program will run from June 28th to July 22nd, and feature three days of comprehensive and engaging classes weekly as well as one day of field trips and workshops each week. Classes will include: Film Studies, Art Studio, Robotics Workshop, Fitness Fun, Girl Power and Leader Life…all geared toward young women between the ages of 9 and 13. Each year, I look forward to being on campus for the duration of this program and seeing the young ladies, bright smiles and excited giggles as they explore all this program has to offer.

This year, it will be especially moving and emotional for me, as I will watch my own child navigate the halls of SDA; the halls I hope to have her walk one day in the near future as a student as well. While it’s hard for us moms to see our babies turn into big girls, it’s wonderful to know there’s a place like Saint Dominic Academy, who will help them grow into motivated, intelligent and spiritual young women, destined for success.

Welcome, Rising Leaders 2021!

June 21

Today, the first official day of summer—we at SDA want to just remind all of our students to be sure to get started on their summer reading! The assignments are posted on our social media and website, and have been emailed home as well. However, a little reminder never hurt anyone and so, once again here are our selections for summer of 2021.

This year, Saint Dominic Academy’s summer reading reflects not only women’s voices but also the moral, ethical, spiritual and societal issues that we want our young ladies to be able to discuss and analyze, as they grow into empowered leaders who can thrive in a global society.

With the exception of the 7th grade and the AP supplemental texts, the selected readings are non-fiction and address complex issues including bullying and harassment, the death penalty, U.S. interactions with the Middle East, ongoing environmental concerns, and genetics. 

It is my hope that parents will choose to read their daughter’s assigned novel and engage in discussion over the summer. When we return in September, our English Department will work with students to create comprehensive, analytical essays while our Religion Department engages in frank and open discussion about the topics for each grade level. 

7th- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

An American classic, dealing with the issues of rape and racial inequality, the novel is also remembered by beloved readers for its warmth and humor. Published in 1960, it skyrocketed to success and won the Pulitzer Prize. The plot and the character are loosely based on the author’s own experiences at age 10 in Monroeville, AL. 

8th- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

Ms. Angelou’s heartbreaking and heartwarming 1969 autobiography. Part of a seven volume series, this is the first of her stories, showcasing how at a young age she overcame racism and trauma. It begins when Maya is three and ends with her becoming a mother at age 16. Fans of her poetry will be moved by her open and honest retelling of her life’s hard beginnings and how she learned to respond to prejudice. 

9th- Autobiography of a Face by Luce Greeley

With a strong focus on identity, this intense and sad memoir by Lucy Grealy tells her story of before and after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. Beginning at age 9 and following to adulthood, she shares with her readers how the removal of her jaw due to cancer had serious effects on her emotional life as well as her physical acceptance of herself. What makes the memoir more heartbreaking is that the author took her own life a short time after this was published. 

10th- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Science and ethics are just two of the many topics covered in this work. Henrietta Lacks, treated for cervical cancer in 1951, had cells that led scientists to what we know as the HeLa, an immortal cell line. However, Ms. Lacks was the unknowing donor of these cells as the doctors who took them never received permission. The book, detailed in nature makes a strong argument about ethical issues and their links to race and class in medical research. 

11th Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean

Those on both side of the death penalty debate cannot help but be moved by this compassionate work of non fiction by Sister Helen Prejean. Working in New Orleans, as spiritual advisor to two convicted murderers on Death Row, Sister gives readers an inside look at Angola, the Louisiana state penitentiary, the process of how the death penalty is carried out, and the moral issues stemming from both the use of the death penalty itself and the role of a spiritual advisor. 

12th  A Mighty Heart by Marianne Pearl

In 2002, Daniel Pearl, a Jewish American journalist for the Wall Street Journal was kidnapped, tortured and beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan. The beheading video was sent to U.S. officials and was viewed by his family as well. This work, penned by his wife Mariane Pearl, who was pregnant with their first and only child when he was killed, gives a vivid, detailed and frightening account of the days leading up to his death. 

12th AP( in addition to above) : The Turn of the Screw– Henry James

Written in 1898 this short novella tells the haunting story of a governess, isolated with two children at a remote estate in England. Are the supernatural events real, or in her mind only? It’s been debated for over a century and this book is a favorite of The College Board for the open response essay. 

Heart of Darkness– Joseph Conrad

Another short but weighty novella, this tells the story of a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State by a group of British officers, searching for an ivory trader named Kurtz. At its heart, the work examines imperialism, racism and the darkness that comes, not from the beliefs of a people, but from the evil inside a man’s heart. 

9th– 12thSilent Spring by Rachel Carson 

Published in 1962, this book is still praised today for it’s in depth look into the environmental effects caused by pesticides. The book was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but, owing to public opinion, it brought about numerous changes. It spurred a reversal in the United States’ national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses, and helped to inspire an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

As part of the mission of the Sisters of Saint Dominic is ongoing commitment to the environment, Saint Dominic Academy asks all of its high school students to read this work over the summer.

June 14

No, no, no…the blog is not under construction, but there is construction under way at Saint Dominic Academy. During the 2020-2021 school year, we happily welcomed MEDQUEST, our medical exploration program, to our school curriculum. Developed and taught by Ms. Roxann D’Alessio, this program had its inaugural year during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, while some students studied in person and others undertook this first portion of the program virtually, the medical program was temporarily housed in the faculty room.

That is all about to change, as we begin this June to establish a MEDQUEST classroom on the first floor of Saint Dominic Academy. With state of the art medical equipment, sinks, exam tables, medical supply cabinets, EKG machines and more…this new facility will be both a monumental and worthwhile summer endeavor here at SDA.

MEDQUEST combines theory and practical application with externships and volunteer work to afford students the knowledge, insight, and experience necessary to pursue various health careers. MEDQUEST provides classroom instruction, practical labs, and field experiences, and some highlights of the program include learning about:

  • Vital Signs
    • Patient Care
    • Pharmacology
    • Medical Assistant Techniques
    • Medical Careers Exploration
    • Phlebotomy
  •  Wound Care
    •  Baby Care
    •  Surgical Instrumentation
    •  Electrocardiography
    •  Assisting with surgical procedures
    •  Suturing

The MEDQUEST simulation lab has four distinct parts: a reception area, an assessment room, a laboratory, and a hospital room.

CPR Certifications are obtained at the end of freshman year and they are recertified every two years.

Four years of the program qualifies students for a Medical Assistant Certification through the National HealthCareer Association.

Three years of the program qualifies students to earn an EKG Technician Certification through the National HealthCareer Association. 

The Medical Assistant Certification and Electrocardiography Technician Certification are lifetime certifications.

Some of the renovations have already been sponsored by one of our generous alumna, however we could always use the support of all of our alumnae, especially those who now work in the medical profession and who understand how truly important it is to have a program such as this one at Saint Dominic Academy. It is my hope that many of our alumnae will consider contacting our Advancement Office today to help make our medical program’s expansion a reality during the summer of 2021.

June 1

On Thursday, May 25, the Class of 2021 graduated from Saint Dominic Academy. Today, I’d like to share my remarks from the graduation ceremony.

Good morning, Class of 2021. As I said at rehearsal last week, since you already have your diplomas in hand, you of course have the option of tuning me out as I offer some final insights and what I hope are words of wisdom before you leave Saint Dominic Academy. However, I hope you won’t do that, as it’s been too long since I have had the chance to talk with all of you, face to face. And we all know how much I love to talk—so please, bear with me for just a few moments.

It’s hard to believe you are graduating—perhaps it’s because of the way the school cycle has worked from last March until now, but I have a hard time realizing that you are done with your senior year—and I’m certain your parents feel the same way. After all, I don’t feel any older than I did when you were in the 9th grade. Remember when I took some of you hiking with Dr. Shreck and the slug spit on Isabella’s hand? Wasn’t that just this past fall? I’m looking at your faces and Charlotte, weren’t you just in Annie? Nastaja, aren’t you still in the 8th grade? Persia…what season of AHS are we up to now? Miya…didn’t I JUST graduate high school with your mom? Alyssa—weren’t you just hyperventilating over a Physics assignment? Julianna and Amanda…weren’t you just the “baby sisters” of seniors and not seniors yourselves? Megan—didn’t I just call you and your dad on the phone to welcome to you to the freshman class? The list could go on and on—and I guess it doesn’t matter if I don’t feel older or if your parents don’t feel older, or if your teachers don’t feel older—the point is this—somewhere in these past four years, you grew up—from brand new “teens” just starting high school to mature young women who have weathered a world- wide pandemic, a historical presidential election, a change in the socio emotional climate of our country, and have grown stronger because of all of these things. 

In fact, maybe I don’t need to give you advice at all ( although I am going to) because I realize that due to all of the emotional growing you had to do, not just over the past four years, but over the past 16 months, that you are already far wiser now than I was at your age. Obstacles and unexpected life events have a way of pushing us forward into adult life and nobody has been pushed forward or asked to adjust to so much so quickly as the students across the United States over the past year and a half. That could mean, that by the time you are my age you’ll be much wiser than I could ever hope to be and that you’ll be the ones giving sage advice to others. But, for today, I’m up here and so, my very last task as your Head of School is to send you out to college and the world with just a few pearls of wisdom I’ve strung together through my 40+ years on earth. 

  • Inner strength has nothing to do with the following: age, size, color
  • Inner strength has to do with one thing—the ability to meet things head on. Each of you has already found that inner strength inside you—you’ve met more obstacles head on then you should have had to at your ages. So, don’t lose sight of it. Meet everything that’s thrown in your path head on. Call upon the inner strength that got you through these past months and as you grow more mature, your inner strength will grow stronger. 
  • Making mistakes is not the worst thing you can do. Everyone makes mistakes. The worst thing you can do is to not own up to your mistakes.
  • If you don’t own up to the mistakes you make along the way, you’ll never learn from them. And, if you don’t learn from them—I can tell you from experience, you’ll just wind up repeating them in a myriad of different ways. 
  • So, make mistakes—we all do—own up to them, learn wisely and move on. 
  • Be resilient. Your feelings are going to get hurt—and I have to tell you, they’re going to get hurt often. That awful sensation does not stop as you get older. It’s hard to be resilient when people hurt you; hard to hold your head up, smile and let it roll off your back. I know—because it is the single hardest thing for me to do, and I’ve been trying for over 40 years. And every day, I keep trying….and every day you should too! 
  • Try not to let them see you cry! Now I don’t mean never cry—that would be crazy advice from a woman who cries at commercials on a regular basis. However, what I’ve learned is that there is a time and a place for a good emotional cry and there’s a time to blink back those tears—and if you are in a situation where someone can use your heartfelt emotion against you and paint it as a sign of weakness—then blink back those tears. Don’t let someone use your good heart and caring empathy to their advantage and your disadvantage. How do you know that’s happening? Trust me—you’ll know. People who want to manipulate you will show their true colors early on. 
  • Be smart-be quick thinking-be safe. It’s sad that in this day and age, you’ll be given this advice over and over again, but as beautiful and kind hearted young women, you need to hear it. Keep your wits about you—at college, at parties, when you’re out with friends, even when you’re on dates—and trust your instincts ALWAYS…if something unsettles you, then remove yourself from the situation right away. We cannot always avoid the danger that life puts in our paths as women sometimes—but we can be aware it exists, we can know to make the safest choices for ourselves at all times and always, we can work for change so that this advice doesn’t have to be handed out in the future. 
  • Finally, and most importantly—find a good friend and be a good friend. I know each of you has a close circle of friends right now—but as you head off to college, although you’ll keep in touch, it will also be time to expand those friendship circles. So, right now, think of your closest friend in the class of 2021—what joy does she bring to your life? How does she make your days better? What about her makes you smile, makes you laugh, makes you a more empowered woman? Do you have the answers? Yes? Good! That’s the friend YOU want to be when you get to college—and people like her are the friends you want to make. 

There are a million more life lessons I could expound upon, but our time together has grown short. I’m no longer your Head of School, and I’m no longer the one who has to work to shape your educational and spiritual path within the walls of SDA. However, I hope you know that I, along with everyone else at SDA will ALWAYS be here for you—and that Saint Dominic Academy will always welcome you home. Congratulations, ladies and much love to you always.