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A View From My Office

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office Dear NDA Family,

Today is October 21st. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 8,188,585 total cases and 219,499 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 40,251,950 total cases and 1,116,131 total deaths around the world. A spike in cases continues in Massachusetts. At Notre Dame Academy, we recognize the number 7 - the seven weeks that we have safely remained on campus during the 2020-2021 academic year.

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I admire the fall foliage around the fields, and I am soaking in the sounds of students outside my window, glad that the fall weather continues to allow comfortable mask breaks; I am learning to recognize the faces of students, even behind the masks; I am enjoying the vase of red and orange gerbera daisies that sit on my desk; and, as I sip my cup of tea, I continue to feel blessed that we have been able to remain on campus together and are now in a more “normal” routine.

In some ways, the routine has made my recent bi-weekly communications seem “mundane”. I think back to the late Summer and early Fall when things were changing daily, decisions were being made constantly, and updated communications to the NDA community were imperative. There was so much to share. But after the last few very hectic months, I think we are all learning to more fully appreciate the “mundane.”

Of course, safety continues to be our top priority. As such, we have made some changes to the school schedule the weeks following Thanksgiving and Christmas Vacation. As a safety precaution and preventive measure, we will be having “full remote days” the week after Thanksgiving break and the week after Christmas break. We hope this will increase the chances of staying on campus long term. As you may know, we already have the Monday following Thanksgiving (11/30) off, and we don’t have classes due to remote Parent-Teacher Conferences on Tuesday (12/1). For the remainder of that week, Wednesday, December 2nd, Thursday, December 3rd, and Friday, December 4th, teachers and students will be remote. In addition, the week of January 4th (1/4-1/8), teachers and students will be remote. We will maintain the typical schedule for those days and the learning will be synchronous. We will not be having the Activity Block on these “remote days”, though Clubs that opt to meet during their regularly scheduled time can do so.

With most in-person events canceled, strict distancing rules in place, and additional remote days added to the calendar, we know that students are still craving engagement and interaction. Therefore, increased engagement in and out of the classroom is a focus. Some highlights of the activities that have occurred over the last two weeks include the following:

  • The Notre Dame Academy Model United Nations (MUN) Delegation continues to meet and plan. This Saturday the NDA/MUN delegation will attend the Saint John's High School Model United Nations "virtually" from Notre Dame Academy. This will involve the same "Opening Ceremonies", the General Assembly Plenary Session, the 12 committee sessions, the passing of "resolutions", and the awards and closing ceremonies. NDA MUN is planning to attend the University of Chicago Model United Nations in February as a "virtual" delegation. The Middle School Annual Diocesan Declamation Competition and the B.C. High events are also still being planned.
  • The physical education program certainly looks different, but we are being creative with different activities including nature walks, obstacle courses, and a Pickleball Tournament. Pickleball is a great activity that allows for some normalcy while still adhering to the safety guidelines which limits numbers on the court, physical contact, and distance between players. The 7th and 8th-grade students are also being introduced to the idea of mindfulness. At the beginning of the 7th and 8th-grade physical education and wellness classes, students are encouraged to take a moment to forget about the stressors in their life and bring their attention to the present. A range of activities have been introduced to the girls, which include grounding, intentional diaphragmatic breathing, offering up a sign of gratitude, completing a body scan to bring attention to and release any built-up tension, and guided meditations to bring calm into their life. Building in these mindfulness practices has proven to be rewarding for both myself and my students as we explore the mind-body connection.
  • This week many of the NDA Faculty and Staff are also participating in a 5-Day Mindfulness Challenge. NDA Alum and current Parent, Mary Pergola (also my NDA Little Sister!) offered her program for us to learn a bit more about Mindfulness, Breathing, and Meditation and to try numerous activities that may help to alleviate stress, confusion, or frustration and bring comfort and peace. Personally, I have found the daily emails so helpful and wonderful reminders to do the simple things that we sometimes forget - starting with “just breathe.”
  • Ms. Cook’s 8th-grade students are completing their unit on Rome by becoming Roman reporters and are writing news stories, recording news podcasts, and/or filming broadcasts. They are learning in an interactive way and having fun!
  • Last week, the faculty, staff, and a number of Board of Trustees members met one evening and had a virtual discussion on the book, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. The group reflected, shared personal stories, and experiences in/out of school that have allowed us to consider the topic of race more deeply. We discussed how we can create conditions for sustained engagement in uncomfortable conversations about race and racism at NDA. While we acknowledged that we read a book written by a white person and that there are many, many books on race written by people of color that could and should be read in addition to this one, the evening was a wonderful opportunity for the group to share challenges and ideas.
  • To celebrate the vigilance with all of the pandemic protocols and embracing strict social distancing rules, we had a “pajama day” last Friday. That morning I taught my Business Class in pajamas, showcasing one of the soft skills of leadership - celebrating success with your team. I have to admit, some of the NDA students and staff have some pretty cool PJs!
  • The college admission season is in full swing with 85% of NDA Seniors having completed at least 3 applications and several having already completed and sent all of their applications. In fact, we have a number of seniors who have already received acceptance letters - before the first of November!

This year, the NDA Administration, Faculty, and Staff are funambulists. According to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, “Back in ancient Rome, tightrope walking was a popular spectacle at public gatherings. The Latin word for "tightrope walker" is "funambulus," from the Latin funis, meaning "rope," plus ambulare, meaning "to walk." Like a tightrope walker, we are continually working very hard to balance between keeping students safe and keeping students engaged.

As a thank you to the funambulists and the students for making the start of this very unusual year successful, we are changing Friday, December 18th from a half-day to a full day off, extending our Christmas Break by one day. Our Kris Kringle Celebration, typically occurring mid-day after shortened classes, will instead happen during the Activity Period on Thursday, December 17th. Although we will have some performances and holiday fun, we will not be exchanging Kris Kringle gifts this year.

The last few months of this calendar year will be busy. Last week, we officially kicked off the 21-22 NDA Enrollment Season. I am looking forward to meeting more parents and students interested in becoming part of the NDA family. If you see an NDA lawn sign in the community, snap a picture, and tag @ndaworcester on Facebook. If you’d like one for your own lawn, let us know here!

The next few months are also sure to bring new challenges and increased opportunities for COVID-19 to be spread. The NDA Leadership Team will continue to look for ways to minimize the risk to our students, their families, and our faculty and staff, and their families. Thank you for continuing to do your part. In the words of St. Julie, “The more difficult the times are the more we must expect and hope everything from the goodness of the good God.”

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. With peace and gratitude,

Lisa

Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy
lmancini@nda-worc.org

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office

 Dear NDA Family,

Today is October 7th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 7,436,278 total cases and 209,560 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 35,347,404 total cases and 1,039,406 total deaths around the world. Seeing the worldwide death toll surpass the one million mark makes my heart sink. At Notre Dame Academy, we recognize the number 5 - the five weeks that we have safely remained on campus during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I sit with my window open to enjoy the fall air; I can hear the chatter of the active classrooms down the hall; I admire the bouquet of pink tulips that sit on my desk, reminding me that spring flowers can still bloom in fall; and, as I sip my cup of tea, I am truly in awe of how well the NDA community has adapted to our new normal. Our teachers and families are under pressure the likes of which we’ve never seen. The pressure to keep the school community safe, day-to-day operations running smoothly, parents informed, and the students’ engaged is immense. But, despite the persistent health threat, concerns for student learning, staff wellbeing, and the barrage of depressing headlines, NDA has risen to the challenge.  

The last two weeks, although very active, have also brought a different sense of calm than we experienced in our first few weeks. The weather has been on our side with mostly sunny days, allowing the use of outdoor classrooms and lunches as well as comfortable mask breaks. Routines have been established, safety protocols better understood, traffic patterns have returned to normal, and co-curricular activities and athletics fill the afternoons once again. A thank you to all students who are respecting the stringent rules. There is no doubt that protocols will not be lifted in the near future. One of my favorite times of the day at the first bell when our new NDA Prayer, written by Paula Isakson, Academic Lead for Religious Studies, is read over the loudspeaker. Together each morning we ask God to be with us throughout the day. The prayer is based on the Hallmarks of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Core Values or our school. 

Heavenly Father, Help us to proclaim the goodness of God through our actions today. May we make known the dignity of each person, acting on behalf of peace and justice, both in our community and in our World. Amen.

Another favorite time of day is after 2:45 pm when I can see the athletes on the field, maintaining their distance and wearing masks while exercising their bodies and learning new skills, supporting the development of the whole student.

The new Activity Period, scheduled during the last block of the school day, has been very successful. This time has allowed students to participate in many clubs and activities while socializing with peers or choosing to seek extra help or focus on homework, and upperclassmen to participate in an afternoon course at Assumption University via our Dual Enrollment program. In particular, athletes who were not always available to participate in Clubs can do so prior to the start of practice after school. As previously stated, this year, more than ever, it is essential that we focus on the whole student, and the Activity Period assists in allowing our students to take advantage of more of what NDA has to offer. On September 24th, the Freshmen spent an Activity Period at the Freshman Get Together, playing a game of “This or That” on the field. Last Friday, the Activity Block was spent celebrating one of the most infamous and exciting NDA traditions - Little Sister Day. This year’s Little Sisters (all 9th  as well as 10th and 11th-grade transfer students) were dressed up as Netflix characters. After weeks of secret emails and a few small gifts, their Big Sister Seniors, who were dressed in pink from head to toe, revealed themselves. After the reveal, they enjoyed pizza and water together. I still have fond memories of being a Little Sister in 1984 when our theme was “candy,” and I dressed as a Sweet Tart. Then, in the fall of my Senior year, the theme was grocery store items. It’s crazy to think that over 30 years have passed, and my Little Sister has a daughter who is a freshman, and a Little Sister, at NDA this year! 

 

Reminiscing about Little Sister Day and other very special memories was a big part of the conversation during last week’s NDA Alum Happy Hour.  It is always so wonderful to spend time with others who have experienced NDA. Even when we have never met, there is something extraordinary about sharing memories with those that passed through the gates as well. As one alum said that night, “it’s a sisterhood.” 

Even with all the exciting activities, safety continues to be our top priority, especially as we see cases of COVID increasing in many areas of the country. We continue to be very vigilant with students and faculty who are not feeling well, experiencing symptoms, or have been potentially exposed. Currently, Notre Dame has had zero positive COVID cases within our student body, faculty, or staff. If we do have a positive case, the school community will be notified appropriately following contact tracing through the DPH.  We will not shift our safety focus, especially as we enter the winter and the flu season. Please remember, per state directives, that all students must have the flu vaccination and provide a receipt to the school nurse. Exemption for religious or medical reasons is allowable and a letter must be provided by the student’s pediatrician.

As you may have seen, a Telegram reporter and photographer visited NDA last week. The article was published in Monday’s edition and highlights how NDA has responded to the COVID crisis in creative and safe ways to accommodate all students. After reading the article, Sr. Elaine Bain, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur East-West Leadership Team Member and Member of the NDA Board of Trustees, commented, “Julie and Francoise would be very proud of her "daughters" following in her footsteps of tackling very difficult situations.” That makes my heart smile.

Thank you all for your continued support as we navigate these unusual times together as a community.  We will continue to be grateful for each day spent on campus while also preparing for the need to change should a reason arise. Also, a very special thank you to all those who purchased oranges and other fruit from our Fruit Fundraiser. The sales ended last Wednesday, and we raised a total of $2,388.35. Our top student sold 22 items, with seven students selling five or more items. We appreciate all of the support to assist with the PPE and other unexpected items we needed to purchase this year. 

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. I hope you all enjoy the upcoming long weekend. 

 

With my appreciation, 

 Lisa

 Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy
lmancini@nda-worc.org

 

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is September 23rd. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 6,825,697 total cases, and 199,462 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 31,375,325 total cases and 966,399 total deaths around the world. At Notre Dame Academy, we celebrate the number 3, as we have safely remained on campus for our third week of the 2020-2021 academic year.

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I am overjoyed at the sounds of learning and laughter I can hear in the classrooms; I am loving the crisp fall air coming in through my open window and the bouquet of flowers in shades of violet and plum that sit on my desk hinting that summer is waning; and as I sip my cup of tea, I am so proud of the way that the majority of NDA students are handling the unusual way that we have returned to campus.

The last two weeks have been very busy, but, as a community, we have also reached a steady state with regards to adjusting to our new on-campus routines. The first day of school brought lots of excitement as students arrived. They were greeted by a number of faculty and staff outside and entered the front door of 425 Salisbury Street through a sea of tiny bubbles, a reminder to every student to “mind your bubble.” Candidly, the first day of school was also the most difficult thus far. The weather was exceptionally hot. Learning new routines and new rules while keeping on masks and having windows open (sans air conditioning) tested all of us. However, the notion that we were together on campus, far outweighed the fact that we were all a little warm.

The days following our first have been much more seasonal, and therefore the buildings are more comfortable. Students are more accustomed to the safety protocols and have an understanding that those not abiding by them will see consequential actions. The minor technology glitches that we encountered with our synchronous remote learning are being resolved. Students experiencing anxiety about the transition back to school have been comforted. The rhythm of a more traditional school day is very apparent.

Last week, I offered NDA Parents an opportunity to share feedback on our first week back to school via a pulse survey. The survey showed that, overall, parents are very pleased with NDA’s readiness for re-opening with over 95% feeling we were very prepared. So many parents shared positive comments and accolades with regards to the efforts that have gone into the planning. Although there were no surprises, there were a few thematic concerns raised and those will continue to be addressed in the next few weeks. Those issues include the afternoon pick-up and related traffic back-up. A number of factors, including the change in schedule and the Activity Period, the fact that Juniors and Seniors had not yet begun their end of day off-campus privileges, and the stall of the Fall Athletic season, have contributed to this year’s difficulty with the flow of afternoon traffic. However, this week we will begin the co-curricular activity schedule and, hopefully, we will be able to begin Athletics soon as well.

Tonight, we are hosting the PreSeason Athletic meeting via Zoom as planned. Like so many of you, NDA is anxious to begin some kind of athletics opportunities for our students, and we are working very hard to do just that. As many parents noted in the survey, Athletics is an important part of the NDA experience. As such, at a minimum, we will do our very best to ensure our students have access to physical activity and skill-building during the sports seasons.

In the first few weeks, we have also enjoyed a number of joint assemblies together as a community. On the first day of school, our Chaplain, Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas led us in prayer for our First Day of School Mass, reminding us that we are beginning anew and that the spirit of St. Julie is all around us. A Catholic Free Press reporter also joined us for Mass and wrote an article about our first day, which appeared in last week’s edition. In addition, last week, our school community had the pleasure of meeting an incredible woman and refugee, Natalya Minkovsky, who immigrated from Kiev, Ukraine in 1990. Natalya’s Zoom presentation was just one of the ways we are connecting to the stories in our summer all-school reading assignment, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

The next few weeks will be filled with preparations for a number of NDA traditions including Freshman Get-together, Little Sister Day, Junior Ring blessing, and the 7th and 8th grade Halloween Celebration. Although these celebrations may look a little different, the NDA spirit will not!

As a reminder, our Fruit Fundraiser, ends on September 30th. Thank you to all those that have contributed by purchasing fruit. If you have not yet had an opportunity, please support our fundraising effort by offering a healthy and delicious product to family, friends, and co-workers. Orders ship directly to any address in the continental U.S.! If you are a parent or friend of a student, there are a number of incentives for students to encourage sales! Voting for the Telegram & Gazette 2020 Best Private Schools in Central Mass also ends on September 30th. Please vote and ask your friends and family to vote for NDA. We truly appreciate your support.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. Enjoy the transition to fall! With my warmest regards,

Lisa
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy
lmancini@nda-worc.org

 

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office

Dear NDA Family,

Today is September 9th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 6,287,362 total cases, and 188,688 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 27,236,916 total cases and 891,031 total deaths around the world. Yet today, I am focused on the number one. One day before the official first day of the 20-21 academic year at Notre Dame Academy.

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I am confident that the Academy is prepared to welcome our students safely back to campus; I am elated to hear the sounds of faculty in classrooms finalizing lessons plans and practicing the new technology skills they have learned over the last few months; I am admiring the sunflowers reminding me of St. Julie’s words “Be like the sunflower that follows every movement of the sun, and keep your eyes always turned towards our good God;” and as I sip my cup of tea, I am excited awaiting tomorrow’s sunrise and then the sight of the young women whose families have entrusted Notre Dame Academy to safely educate their daughters during a pandemic.

The two weeks since my last update have brought transformation to our campus. Classrooms have been re- organized, technology has been enhanced, signage has been installed, all buildings have been deep cleaned (multiple times). All staff have participated in safety training and each faculty member has had over 50 hours of professional development, mostly focused on improved technology skills. Last week we also welcomed all new and transfer students to NDA with sessions devoted just to them. Yesterday and today, students are on campus for grade-level sessions focusing on our new safety protocols and routines. It is heartwarming to see them. Even with their noses and mouths properly covered, I can still see the nervecitement in their eyes. (Note: I learned that new word from a 7th grade student yesterday - and I love it!)

Yesterday, we also held our first NDA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce. The meeting marked a significant step in developing thoughtful diversity strategies and best practices. The group had a very robust discussion and agreed that genuine, authentic, sometimes difficult conversations will ensure that the Academy does better in serving our diverse community. We know that racism and race-motivated cruelty directly impact the community we serve. It is our responsibility as educators to address these issues. NDA is committed to partnering with all members of our school communities to ensure safe, healthy spaces that affirm the identity of each and every student, leveraging the assets they bring. A heartfelt thank you to each Task Force member who has committed to ensuring NDA continues the mission of St. Julie in eliminating hatred and persecution and offering a strong education to all young women.

Beyond the important updates my bi-weekly communications provide, many readers have recently told me that what they appreciate most is my transparency. With that in mind, I will share that in addition to the excitement I am feeling, I am also anxious, nervous, and exhausted. But like so many, those words don’t seem to adequately describe the full range of emotions I am feeling. Nervecitement may be the closest word but still doesn’t completely describe the feelings. This week I read an article which discussed the depletion of our “surge capacity.” The article resonated with me. The concept that we all have surge capacity, the collection of adaptive systems - mental and physical - to deal with acutely stressful situations. However, we are not accustomed to having to deal with disasters that are spread out over long periods of time. I have always considered myself to be adaptable, resilient, and positive. Yet, the last few months have tested me in profound ways. The article reminded me that we all are experiencing ambiguous loss and that each of us is finding our own coping mechanisms. For me, grieving the loss of “normal,” focusing on the task at hand, and building back up my resilience bank account is where I will start. This school year will not be normal, or even predictable, but I will dig deep and focus on our desired outcome. Our students deserve that.

And, I am not alone. Our students, families and staff are undeniably anxious too. But the entire Notre Dame Academy team has truly worked tirelessly, especially over the last few weeks, to ensure that our campus is ready, and our academic preparations are complete. I would especially like to give my personal thanks to the Executive Leadership Team. The two newest members of the team, Colleen Sullivan (Director of Advancement and Alum Relations) and Ewa Mamro (Business Manager) have jumped right into their new roles. They have already both contributed so much that it’s hard to believe they have only been at NDA for a month. Cait Lubelcyzk (Director of Enrollment and Marketing) has done an outstanding job sharing all of our summer efforts via social media and also guiding new families through the admissions process. I am also especially grateful for the efforts of Susan Butler (Principal) and Emily Haley (Dean of Students), who have worked alongside me all summer leading the work of brainstorming, planning, and executing a successful and safe re-opening. It is no secret that all three of us are new to our roles, but as our predecessor, Sr. Ann Morrison, often reminds us, no other school administrator has ever led a school in a pandemic either. I feel truly blessed to be working with such an amazing team of smart, determined, and dynamic leaders. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have entrusted us to carry forth their mission and I have no doubt that we will do just that. If ever I have witnessed love in action, it has been this summer, watching the team putting their love of NDA students into action We take seriously our responsibility of ensuring that we share NDA traditions and the values of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur learning community in a safe and supportive school environment.

Tomorrow is the culmination of months of preparation. We will enter the gates of our beloved campus at 425 Salisbury Street. (Reminder that it is a dress up day.) Together with parents, students, faculty, and staff, I will be anxious, but also so excited to see the faces of our students. 95% of our student body has elected to come back to campus and tomorrow we will start new routines - we will mind each other’s “bubble,” we will walk the halls six feet apart, we will sit in classrooms with different formations and new technology, we will go outside for mask breaks, we will pray, and we will learn - together. This year, more than ever before, NDA students and staff will be a united community. A community doing everything in our power to keep ourselves and each other safe. We will wash our hands, wear our masks, stay distant, and take our multivitamins. Collectively, we will be thankful for every day that we are able to be together on our beautiful 6-acre campus. And should a day come that won’t allow for that, we shall continue to stay connected in a virtual environment where we will all continue to grow and learn.

In closing, I have two requests. First, this week we kicked off our Fruit Fundraiser, selling hand-picked Indian River fruit through online sales. Please support our fundraising effort by offering a healthy and delicious product to family, friends, and co-workers. Orders ship directly to any address in the continental U.S.! We will be announcing some incentives for students to encourage sales but are also looking to Vitamin C how much support we can garnish from our broader community. Second, I am so proud to share that Notre Dame Academy has been nominated as one of the Telegram & Gazette 2020 Best Private Schools in Central Mass! These awards celebrate and recognize the best our community has to offer, and it is nice to see NDA being recognized as one of the best, alongside four other tremendous schools! Please vote and ask your friends and family to vote for NDA. Both the fundraiser and the award votes close on September 30th. Thank you in advance for your support!

May each NDA student, faculty member, and staff have a good night’s sleep tonight. Tomorrow is the day we have been looking forward to. Not back to normal, but forward to better!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. God Bless. With excitement and anticipation as well as the faith that this journey requires,

 

Lisa
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy
lmancini@nda-worc.org

P.S. Mia and Bianca wanted me to pass along their well wishes to each NDA student too! Woof. Woof.

A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office Dear NDA Family,

Today is August 26th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 5,715,567 total cases, and 176,617 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 23,518,343 total cases and 810,492 total deaths around the world. I never imagined those numbers would include so many commas when I started writing this communication in March. But today, I am focused on a much smaller number - 15. There are fifteen days before the official first day of the 20-21 academic year at Notre Dame Academy. Today also symbolizes a shift to some “normalcy” as I communicate with you from my NDA Office.

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I am so proud of how much work has been accomplished over the summer and most notably over the last few weeks as we prepare for the beginning to the school year; I look out at the sports fields and hope to see students utilizing it soon; I miss having Mia and Bianca at my feet while I write as they were my constant companions while I was working remotely; I have stayed true to my promise to myself by placing a bouquet of enormous blue and purple-hued hydrangeas from my aunt’s garden on my desk; and as I sip my cup of tea, I am excited to hear the sounds of students in the hallways soon.

As previously shared, NDA is returning to school on campus, with an alternative option for those families who prefer virtual learning. All faculty and staff return to school next week, but the first day of classes is Thursday, September 10th. We are blessed to have NDA Chaplain, Father Jonathan Slavinskas, joining us at 2:00 pm for our First Day of School Mass, allowing us to pray together for a safe and successful year. It will be a dress-up day, and all students are expected to be on campus until 2:45 pm.

Both the Academic and Safety and Wellness Task Forces continue to be very busy. This week new technology is being installed in all classrooms. The entire campus is being cleaned (again), and signage is being installed to remind all those in the building of traffic flow, mask-wearing, hand washing, and other new safety protocols. Student schedules are also being finalized and will be emailed soon. The NDA Athletic Department is still waiting for guidance from MIAA and district committees in the upcoming weeks, so we have decided to postpone the Parent Athletics Q&A that was initially scheduled for this Thursday, August 27th to September 3rd at 5:00 pm.

Today, I am excited to announce that our new NDA Spirit Shop is live on our website! The Spirit Shop includes accessories such as hats, a blanket (great for sitting outside at school), and even a rolling backpack to alleviate carrying books since there is no locker access when we return to campus. We also have some great new t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and other clothing items with the NDA logo. I hope you all visit the new NDA Spirit Shop. I can’t wait to see everyone showing the NDA spirit and their pride for our community!

In the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to connect with many people about their willingness to participate in the NDA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce. Today, as promised, I am sharing the names of the Taskforce members. I have also included their job titles. However, in all cases, their experience and passion for diversity and equity go far beyond their “day job.” The Task Force will have a significant role in developing strategies and best practices with regards to diversity (race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, differently-abled (physical and mental), socio-economic status) inclusion at the Academy. This Task Force aims to develop and promote strategies and best practices within the realm of diversity. The first meeting of the Task Force is occurring on September 8th.

I would like to personally thank each member of the group for their willingness to share their experiences and insights for the betterment of the Notre Dame Academy campus culture. This admirable group will help guide us as we continue to ensure that our community has a holistic educational, professional, and inclusive experience.

Nana Abdelkader-  STEM Coordinator and Coach, Alhuda Academy
Aamina Awan -Chief of Partnerships, U.S. Department of State
Jon Bennett-Academic Lead, Humanities/English Teacher, Notre Dame Academy
Chantel Bethea-Case Manager, Open Sky Community Services
Melanie Bonsu-Director of Development & Marketing, Girl Scouts of Central & Western MA
Donna Brissette-Lieutenant, Worcester Police Department
Susan Butler-Principal, Notre Dame  Academy
Linda Cavaioli-Executive Director, YWCA Central MA
Elizabeth Condron-Associate Director of Emergency Shelters, Pine Street Inn
Reaghan Deignan-Student, Notre Dame Academy
Sharon Goyette-Social Studies Teacher, Notre Dame Academy
Emily Haley-Dean of Students, Notre Dame Academy
Maria Lawson-Mental Health Clinician, Multicultural Wellness Center
Edith Lorin-Student, Notre Dame Academy
Caitlin Lubelczyk-Director of Marketing and Enrollment, Notre Dame Academy
Lisa Mancini-Head of School, Notre Dame Academy
Luz Mejia-Chair of Voter Registration Committee, League of Women Voters of Worcester and Local Business News Reporter, Latin American Business Organization
Kate Myshrall-Vice President of Advancement, Seven Hills Foundation
AiVi Nguyen-Partner, Bowditch & Dewey, LLP
Sean Rose-President and CEO, Thrive Support and Advocacy
Kathy Sennott-Northeast Director of Mission Integration, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur US East-West
Fr Jonathan Slavinskas-Pastor, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church of Our Lady of Providence Parish and Chaplain, Notre Dame Academy
Colleen Sullivan-Director of Advancement and Alum Relations
Rachel Toth-Student, Notre Dame Academy
Victoria Waterman-Chief Executive Officer, Girls Inc. of Worcester
Stephanie Williams-Assistant Director, MA Department of Transitional Service

I hope these updates continue to be informative. You can continue to look for my bi-weekly communications throughout the school year. And though I miss my co-workers, Mia and Bianca, I hope to continue writing these communications to you from my NDA office until next summer! Please join me in giving this year the opportunity to be awesome, without putting any other labels or judgment on it. We will continue to be adaptable, and I have faith that this year may surprise us in big and beautiful ways. God is good.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out.

With grace and fortitude,

Lisa

Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy
lmancini@nda-worc.org