A Message from the Head of School: A View from My NDA Office Dear NDA Family,
Today is November 3, 2021. As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, I enjoy the crisp fall air coming through my open windows; my beloved puppies, Mia and Bianca, are relaxing at home, anxiously awaiting the return of their humans after work; a very special pumpkin, delivered by a secret “Pumpkin Pal” sits on my desk; and as I sip my cup of tea, I reflect on the mission of NDA and how I see it manifest in our community every day. I often start my days watching our new video, which perfectly captures the spirit of the NDA leaders of tomorrow!
My favorite way to start my day is by standing outside to greet our students. I enjoy the opportunity to wave to parents and other family and friends who are lovingly giving up their time to drop students off at NDA. Often a younger sibling gives me a cute wave from the backseat, or a family fur-baby pokes its head out the window, seemingly wishing me a good day.
Last week, my heart smiled when a family member rolled down the window to tell me how much he enjoys the information shared in this newsletter, especially when he conveyed he was an English major! And a special thanks to the Moms who told me they loved my shoes earlier this week! So many students who were so shy as we began school a few months ago now beat me to the “Good Morning” exchange. By far, my favorite moments are when I hear students say “I love you” to their parent before they exit the vehicle.
Last Friday, October 29th, the morning drop-off routine allowed me the chance to see so many of our students in costume for Halloween. It was an extra special day for our St. Julie Division (SJD) middle school students who enjoyed an afternoon of Halloween activities, including a costume parade to the Knollwood Mansion to show Sr. Ann Morrison and Ms. Kathy Philipp their wonderful costumes. The costumes were some of the best we have seen!
The St. Julie Division students also led our All Saints Day liturgy. In keeping with SJD tradition, to begin the Mass, each student carried their pumpkin, decorated to depict an important Saint, as Mr. Kallin Johnson played “When the Saints Come Marching In” on the piano. Thank you to Father Jonathan Slavinskas, NDA Chaplain, for celebrating this day with us. During November, we will continue to remember those who have gone before us, particularly the saints, holy men, and women who lived exemplary lives.
Two other traditions that continue this month include the Oxfam banquet and the Love-In-Action Commissioning Ceremony. With Sr. Evelyn McKenna’s support, the Oxfam Banquet will be held tonight at 5 pm. For those not familiar, when guests arrive at our Oxfam Banquet, they draw tickets at random that assign each to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier, based on the latest statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Each income level receives a corresponding meal. This long-standing event, organized by the NDA Oxfam Club, challenges how we all think about hunger and poverty. It is a remarkable evening, and I encourage all to attend.
This month we will also celebrate one of the most extraordinary and most impactful programs at Notre Dame Academy. NDA Love In Action is celebrating its 50th Anniversary! This program, which requires all Juniors and Seniors to perform 60 hours of community service each year, is one that every alum who has graduated since 1971 can remember. On November 12th, the NDA community will celebrate with a special Love In Action Commissioning Ceremony where we will bless those going forth in service this year and reflect on the last 50 years. Following the ceremony, every student, faculty, and staff member will participate in a school-wide service day. We will board buses to many sites in the community to show what love in action means to NDA. We will return to campus to enjoy a cookout hosted by the NDA Parent Association in the afternoon. I am very much looking forward to this special day to celebrate a program that impacted my life, and so many others, in a profound way.
Another unique tradition that was celebrated in the last month was Junior Ring Day. On October 22nd, the NDA community gathered to bless special class rings for the NDA Class of 2023. It was a beautiful day framed with sunflowers. As the Juniors embark on their upperclassmen years, we are reminded of the words of St. Julie, “Be like the sunflower that follows every moment of the sun, and keep your eyes always turned to the good God.”
We were very fortunate to have sunny days during a busy athletic month! There were several days when there were multiple games/meets happening simultaneously, and spectators could see many of our athletes on the field and court. The energy on those days was electric! During October, NDA athletes supported breast cancer research by wearing pink to numerous games and hosting a “Pink Out” in conjunction with our girlUp Club. By selling pink items and pink food donated by the Boost-her Club, NDA raised $1500 to go to breast cancer patient care services at UMASS Memorial.
The Fall season continues with post-season games. The schedule of upcoming games can be found on Arbiter Live. Maybe we have some Rebel alums who live near these games who will help to cheer our athletes on!
It’s hard to believe that the Winter Season is about to kick off! All Ice Hockey candidates have a meeting on November 8th at Hogan Ice Arena in Auburn at 6:30 pm. All interested winter sports athletes must register by November 17th on Family ID. There is a mandatory "Meet the Coach Night" for winter student-athletes and families participating in basketball and indoor track on November 18th. That presentation begins at 6 pm in NDA's auditorium. There will be a 30-minute presentation to review rules and expectations for all student-athletes, followed by break-out sessions for student-athletes and families to meet with their respective coaches. The first day of tryouts for the winter season is November 29th. And with the start of winter, our Ski Club will also begin! Mr. Cole Crusciel will be the School Coordinator for the Club this year. Notre Dame Academy's 6-week ski/snowboard club begins Tuesday, January 4th, and registration is handled directly through Wachusett Mountain. Current students and families can take advantage of the NDA Ski Club pricing.
The Model United Nations (MUN) Club had its first event of the year. The NDA MUN Delegates performed exceptionally well at the Saint John's Model United Nations on Saturday, October 23rd. One student passed a "MUN Resolution" representing the USSR. This was an excellent effort by all. The NDA MUN is now preparing for the event on December 11th at Saint John’s Prep in Danvers, where several Saint Julie Division students will be participating in the middle school division. The MUN is also looking forward to the opportunity to attend the University of Chicago Model United Nations in February of 2022.
On October 20th, many students and delegates from Notre Dame schools across the globe gathered together for a virtual Global Education Forum. Our NDA team enjoyed breakout sessions with our new friends in California and Nigeria. The discussion focused on care for creation, climate, ecological justice, and Laudato Si. Along with the MUN students, these students represent the concept of "globalization" that is part of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SDNdeN) tradition.
On October 17th, we welcomed new families interested in learning more about the NDA and SNDdeN missions and traditions. The last family leaving the foyer had two daughters, only one of them was coming to look at NDA for 9th grade, but the younger sister, a 6th grader, said to us, “I’ve never seen a school where the students and teachers liked each other so much; it shows.” Her parents said she mentioned that about three times throughout the day, and both are now applying to NDA. This was a wonderful reminder of how the nurturing environment shines through for those who come through the gates to visit the campus. Anyone interested in learning more about NDA should visit our website. Our high school entrance exam is coming up this weekend on November 6th!
Another event that I encourage you all to attend is the upcoming 10 Under 10 Awards Night. This year, we will be honoring alums who graduated between 2010 and 2019 and are emerging leaders in their fields, making significant contributions to their communities by living out their calling. Our awardees serve as outstanding young role models for our current and future students by showcasing the attributes of an NDA graduate. The event will take place virtually on Sunday, November 14th. Event registration is available here.
We are excited to have on campus in November include the Annual Fall Concert this Thursday at 7 pm in the Cuvilly Auditorium. This will be the Music Department’s first public concert in 20 months. All are welcome to come to hear our talented singers and musicians free of charge! The NDA Theatre Department is also pleased to present our Fall Production, The Night Witches, on Friday, November 19th, and Saturday, November 20th. Both performances are at 7 pm also in the Cuvilly Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and can be purchased here.
Many other exciting learning lessons happen in our school community every day. Here is a sampling of a few recent examples:
● The Sophomore AP World students completed the "Autopsy of an Empire" group project. They investigated what led to the downfall of six different Early Modern empires and created coroner reports and obituaries for them. Lifesize posters are hanging up on the walls of our third floor!
● Engineering students did an Egg Drop project where they had to drop an egg three stories without breaking. Then they did a Reverse Engineer where the students had to take apart a small appliance and create a manual on how to put it back together.
● In one of the 7th grade Math classes, they had a “Song Battle”! Students were tasked with coming up with a song that would help them remember the rules for multiplying and dividing integers. Students could use an existing melody or make one up. All songs were then performed and critiqued. How fun!
● The 7th grade World Geography class wanted to reach out and establish writing relationships with "pen pals from around the world to learn our geographical differences better worldwide. With the assistance of our SND community, they are now writing and exchanging pictures, ideas, and letters with Notre Dame students and schools from around the world. They will also be writing to Sister Amarachi Ezeonu who will educate them regarding the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in respect to the non-governmental organization (NGO) of Notre Dame in the United Nations.
● Grade seven students studied the formation of rocks and crystals. They used a hammer to break open geodes and analyze the crystal formations inside and Grade 8 students went into the lab and used digital and triple beam balances and other lab equipment to determine the density of cubes of varying materials.
● Some eleventh graders have been doing some stellar character analyses of The Great Gatsby. They have gone beyond just thinking about how Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, or any of the supporting characters are growing and changing throughout the story and analyzing the characters.
● Tenth graders are reading Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. They are learning about "anchor" statements and will be writing essays about these prophetic statements this week.
● Grade 11 Scripture Studies students completed and shared a Faith Interview project in which they interviewed a person 18+ in their lives who they consider to be a "person of faith.” Through a series of questions and ensuing conversations, students gained an appreciation for this person's faith journey, reflected on the similarities and differences with their own, and perhaps grew to know this person in their lives on a deeper level than they previously had.
● Grade 9 Latin Studies students completed and shared a "Latin in Everyday Life" project in which they discovered and researched an example of where Latin can be found all around us - in the stories of Roman gods and goddesses, woven into the character and spell names in Harry Potter, and popular brand names like Athleta (athlete), Volvo (I roll), Panera (breadbasket), and ASICS (Anima Sana In Corpore Sano - A healthy mind in a healthy body). Students enjoyed sharing slideshows of these examples and learning more about how Latin is all around us!
Students and families, please remember that there are no classes this Friday as it is a Professional Development Day for our faculty and staff. There is also no school next Thursday, November 11th, in observation of Veteran’s Day. More details regarding the upcoming Food Drive, which begins on November 15th, will be shared soon.
I hope you found this month’s issue of “A View” helpful. As one of the NDA communication vehicles to ensure our community receives essential and timely communication, we will continue to share who we are as an NDA community by highlighting school activities over the last month and ensuring awareness of upcoming events. Archived issues of this newsletter are available here.
As Thanksgiving draws near, may we remember the words of Maya Angelou, “Be present in all things, and thankful for all things.”
With my warmest appreciation for our NDA community,
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy