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A View From My Office

A View From My Office- June 2, 2021

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

Dear NDA Family,

Today is June 2nd, 2021. As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, my windows are open and the sun is shining; Mia and Bianca are home, undoubtedly anxiously awaiting my return for our evening walk; I enjoy the sprouts from the newly planted seeds on my windowsill; and as I sip my cup of tea, I exhale knowing we made it! The signs indicating the colleges this year’s graduates will be attending lining the entrance to 425 Salisbury Street are a sure sign that the end of the year is upon us!

The entire NDA community made it through a difficult year. We zigged and zagged as we navigated so many unknowns. It certainly wasn’t easy, but the year seemed to fly by! On the first day of school, we had bubble machines at the entrance prompting students to “mind their bubbles” and use social distancing. On our last day of classes, bubbles once again welcomed students into the building. A sign of having come full circle.

Tomorrow marks the last day of finals. As we approach the end of the remarkable school year, I have spent a lot of time reflecting. Despite being a difficult year in many ways, one that could leave us feeling like we didn’t do enough, didn’t teach enough, didn’t connect enough, didn’t celebrate enough, I am confident that we did have an extremely successful year as measured by the growth and involvement of our students. So many young people today are experiencing epidemic levels of isolation; however, especially in the last month of school, our campus was as vibrant as ever.

No doubt the neighbors knew it was the annual NDA Beep Day on May 13th. After their last day of classes, Seniors enjoyed the traditional few minutes in the parking lot with cars decorated, music playing, and their final “beeps” as they headed out the NDA gates. On May 14th, Arts Day showcased some incredible works of art in the form of dance, visual arts, music, and theater.  The chalk mandalas in the parking lot were absolutely beautiful! May 20th brought all of the NDA Student- Athletes together in person and virtually for our 37th Annual Athletic Awards Night. The evening included a special presentation from Mayor Petty who honored Coach Provost with a key to the City for her 600th field hockey win.

On May 21, 22, and 23, I am sure you could hear the cast of High School Musical from miles away. I still found myself singing “Get Your Head in the Game!” in the grocery store aisle this week. Though we worried about the impact of weather on the outdoor venue, the rain held off until 5 minutes after the last show (and then the downpour came!) Bravo to the entire cast and crew! The sun was certainly out the afternoon of May 26th when the Seniors were inducted into the NDA Alum Association and then enjoyed a BBQ and ice cream truck, lawn games, photo booth, and music outside. And again on May 27th, Class Day 2021, we were fortunate to have perfect weather as many Juniors and Seniors received Academic Awards and each class honored the Seniors in very special ways. Every bit of Class Day was wonderful, but after being in an NDA Junior Skit in 1987, and watching an NDA Junior Skit in 1988, I can now say, in 2021, I was a character in an NDA Junior Skit. Congratulations to the NDA Class of 2022, especially Edith who made a wonderful Ms. Mancini in the skit as she wrote “A View From My NDA/Home Office.” It was a wonderful parody and certainly received the desired comedic effect! Bravo ladies!

The cold weather and rain did alter our plans for a traditional graduation on the graduation lawn this past Sunday; however, the ceremony in the theatre still allowed for students and their families to celebrate the momentous occasion and cross the stage to receive their diplomas in a very special ceremony. I was honored to present the Foundress Award to Senior Mabel McDonald. This award was established by the Mother's Guild in 1983 to honor a senior, chosen by her class, who best represents the spirit and tradition of St. Julie Billiart in faith, devotion, commitment, and kindness. As the recipient of this award in 1988, I know what an honor it is!

Samantha Gulachenski was chosen by her “sisters for life” to deliver the Senior Speech. Sam’s words were poignant and meaningful as she shared her experience of being instantly welcomed into the NDA family as a Junior transfer student. I share her parting words, “Today, we will pass through the iron gates out into the world for the first time as graduates. As our paths begin to branch off once again into new directions, we will all take one thing with us wherever we go.

Each other. We are all a mosaic of the people in our lives. Aren’t we lucky that this family shaped us to be who we are today? A piece of each and every one of us will be within us forever. No matter where your path leads you, take with you your NDA family. The lessons you’ve learned, the values instilled in you, and the people who lived it with you. Go out and show the world who you are and what it means to forever be a part of the family that has helped you grow. Do great things. I know we will…because we are and will forever be NDA.”

Jo Massarelli, NDA Class of 1975, was this year’s Graduation Speaker. Her message that “in this wildly changing world there are some constants in life, and if we can discern them amidst all the noise and chatter, we are in a much better place to frankly maintain our personal sanity, be a nurturing presence for those we love, and make a positive difference in this world.” was profound and inspiring. She brought her NDA uniform to share with the graduates and their families and left them with a very important sentiment, “And as I wrap up here, I'd like to speak to you as a woman. Don't let anyone tell you that the only difference between men and women is anatomy, or preference, or sensibility. All wisdom traditions tell us that there are deep-seeded aspects of our souls as women that complete us. Our spiritual identity as life-bearers, present in us whether we have children or not, is what distinguishes us as necessary beings in the world and distinct from men. Yet so often we are encouraged to be caricatures of men: the high-powered businesswoman, the hard-bitten politician, the gun-toting detective, the fists-swinging lawyer… These are the archetypal images we are told make up the successful woman.

Certainly, strive for excellence in whatever you do, but bring compassion with you. Appreciate your womanly nature as life-bearer in the broad sense, as sister, as auntie, as listener, as gentler, as healer, as nurturer, all so vital in this iron-bound, chilly and troubled world.

Dostoevsky said, ‘the world will be saved by beauty’ and that is us! So, appreciate that. And one another. Cherish the friends you have made at NDA. Stay close to one another and to the school. And hang onto your NDA artifacts. Who knows? Maybe in 40 years, you’ll get to be the graduation speaker.” It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if one of the graduates will be.

Tomorrow we will celebrate our 8th graders with their Promotion Ceremony. This special outdoor ceremony with their family marks a milestone as we acknowledge their transition from middle school to high school. We are hopeful the weather will cooperate.

This week we also shift the focus from current students and 2021 graduates to new incoming students and alum! This Saturday, we will be welcoming back members of all NDA graduating classes ending in 0, 1, 5, and 6. I am so excited to be able to spend time with the 175 alum who will be coming back through our gates to reconnect, re-engage, and reaffirm their support of the Notre Dame Academy experience! I have no doubt it will be a wonderful event. During the event, we will also be celebrating two classes that have responded to the Reunion Challenge.

The Reunion Challenge celebrates the entirety of each class’s philanthropy to the Academy during their respective milestone year. Although the fiscal year ends on June 30, we encourage our reunion year alums to make their contributions before the Reunion celebration. The Reunion Class Gift includes all contributions to the Academy received in the current fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) and allows classmates to support the priority of their choice. The classes that have reached the highest participation and the greatest impact by June 5 will be recognized during the reunion celebration, however, the challenge will extend through to June 30, 2021. As of today, the class of 1986 leads the way in participation, with 22% of the class making a gift to the Academy this year, and the class of 1960 has collectively donated $26,900. After we cross the finish line, the final results will be shared with each reunion class. Then on June 9th, we shift gears, and we will welcome new incoming students to NDA, many of whom have not been able to explore the campus in-depth, due to COVID.

The week of June 7th begins NDA Summer Hours with the Main Office open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm. However, the campus will remain vibrant with a prolonged sports season, campus rentals, and our AICS Summer Programs! Be sure to check out the great offerings for students in grades 7-12. There are a number of programs strongly encouraged for any rising and incoming Notre Dame Academy 7th and 9th-grade students and there are many other programs open to the public. Spread the word!

I will continue to share this communication with you in July and August as we prepare for the new academic year. As you may know, The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced that all COVID-19 related health and safety requirements will be lifted for the 2021-2022 school year. That means students will be able to return to NDA without physical distancing requirements. Current Parents will also receive communication from Mrs. Susan Butler, NDA Principal, and Ms. Emily Haley, NDA Dean of Students as it relates to books, schedules, the first day of classes, etc. throughout the summer.

I hope each member of our community has an opportunity to truly enjoy some lazy days of summer. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Live in the Sunshine, Swim in the Sea, and Drink in the Wild Air.”

 

Grace and Blessings,

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

Dear NDA Family,

Today is May 5th, 2021. As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, my windows are open and the cool May breeze comes in; Mia and Bianca are home, likely also looking out the windows at the squirrels playing in our yard; I enjoy a bouquet of tulips, one of my favorite spring flowers; and as I sip my cup of tea, I am reminded that NDA has had an incredible year, even in the craziest of times. There is no doubt that every member of the NDA team deserves some beautiful beach days this summer!

It’s hard to imagine we have flipped the calendar to May and have begun the countdown to year-end activities, final exams, and graduation. The Service Club, under the direction of Mrs. Butler and Miss Sullivan, hosted a Beautification Day on Saturday and has ensured that our campus looks beautiful for all of the upcoming outdoor events! Faculty and students continue to work hard. Many teachers have shared some of the creative final assignments and projects and I would love to share them with you.

●     Grade 9 Latin students are working on writing and illustrating children's stories using the vocabulary and grammar concepts that they have learned this year.

●     The Diversity Club is planning a school-wide mural project on what diversity means to NDA students before the end of the school year.

●     Grade 10 English students watched Little Women and were asked to reflect on the similarities and differences between their own lives as modern, Massachusetts teenage girls to the lives of the March girls at the close of the Civil War.

●     The Psychology class created some incredible pieces for their psychological disorders mural project. Groups created murals using black spray paint and colored chalk pastels to visually represent the symptoms and emotions surrounding various psychological disorders. In addition, Psychology students presented their independent research projects in a science fair-style environment. They covered topics ranging from the psychological diagnoses of Winnie the Pooh characters to the reward/punishment system used within inpatient facilities to the portrayal of dissociative identity disorders in Hollywood movies.

●     8th Grade English students are learning about the Slam Poetry movement. Students have been watching and reading different slam poems as well as learning about different poetic devices that are used and their effects. Students will end the quarter by writing and performing an original piece.

●     8th Grade Dance students are learning new routines to be performed during the upcoming Arts day.

●     9th Grade History students recently completed their study of World War II and the Holocaust. Their slide presentations studied the rise of the Nazis and their anti-Semitic policies. They also studied the beautiful poetry, music, and art that was produced in the camps by the courageous Jewish people in so-called model camps. In addition, they presented on literature and memoirs such as The Diary of AnnFrank to Elie Wiesel's Night The project was intended to have students learn, and teach about the horrors of any form of discrimination based on color, sexual persuasion, ethnicity, or religion.

●     Biology 1 students just completed a fermentation lab where they made homemade root beer. They enjoyed a socially distanced taste test and made root beer floats at the end of class

●     In Biology II, they are working in biotechnology and did a DNA extraction lab. Strawberries were used as samples and each student got to take with them a microtube of strawberry DNA home.

●     Grade 8 Religion has practiced the method of prayer known as Visio Divina "Sacred Seeing" in which students use photographs or works of art to communicate and connect with God.

●     Anatomy students will be showing their creative side for learning the many muscle movements as they perform creations for the class.

●     Grade 7 Geography students have been studying the geography of South America. One student shared her knowledge of the art of Origami and then students created their own Amazon Rainforest frogs using the technique of Origami.

●     My Business Class celebrated Financial Literacy Month with group presentations on financial literacy topics. In addition, we all competed in a virtual Stock Market Challenge where we each had $100,000 (not real of course) to buy and sell stocks for 45 days. The simulation was based on the actual New York Stock Exchange daily results. Most of the students ended the challenge with over $100K while a few of us may have taken too much risk and lost some of our funds.

●     Grade 11 Religion students are analyzing Psalms of different categories, and then composing and illustrating a Psalm of their own.

Looking ahead at the next month, the calendar is packed with more activity - inside and outside of the classrooms. Here are some highlights of the upcoming activity.

●     Rehearsals are in full swing for High School Musical! The musical will be performed on an outdoor stage and the performers and crew are working very hard to get ready for the performances which will be held on May 21, 22, 23. Tickets will be going on sale soon! You don’t want to miss this!

●     Arts Day is May 14th and will showcase student art in the form of dance, visual arts, music, and theatre. There are no classes on this day and there will be an early release for students, though Seniors will have a graduation practice following the Arts Day events.

●     We look forward to celebrating our NDA Athletes on Athletic Awards Night on May 20th. This event will be a hybrid event with some attending the presentation in the theatre and others able to watch remotely from home. Additional details have been shared with all NDA Athletes.

●     Our 8th-grade students will enjoy their outdoor Promotion Ceremony on June 3rd.

●     May 13th is the last day of senior classes and also our Ascension Thursday Mass (mandatory for all students.) After school, we will also have our traditional Beep Day, one of the highlights of Senior year.

●     Even after their last day of classes, Seniors will be busy with their Induction to the NDA Alum Association and Senior Dinner (an outdoor event with food trucks and lawn games!) on May 26th, Class Day on May 27th where we will celebrate our last Mass of the year together and each of the other grades will honor the Class of 2021 in a special way, Graduation Day on the traditional graduation lawn on May 30th - and Junior/Senior Prom is planned for June 11th (assuming enough participation).

●     June 5th we welcome back members of all NDA graduating Classes ending in 0, 1, 5, and 6. I hope to see many alum come back through our gates to reconnect, reengage, and reaffirm their support of the Notre Dame Academy experience!

Keep an eye on the NDA Facebook Page and other social media for all these events as well as 2021 Senior Spotlights, College T-shirt Day, and pictures of the lawn signs representing each college that our Seniors plan on attending that will soon line the entrance to our gates at the main entrance!

Late Spring is an interesting time of year in an academic setting. We stand with one foot in this academic current year, ensuring successful culmination of activity as the year comes to a close. Yet, we also have one foot in the next year, laying the groundwork for summer activity and planning for the next academic year. Never is the goal to replicate the prior year, but rather to take the opportunity and challenge to continue to imagine and then make the next even better. This year we have that opportunity more than most. At NDA, we will eliminate things that we had to do for the crisis but no longer add value or are necessary. We will reflect and let go of the things that had always been done, but during the pandemic, we learned they are not important to our mission and vision. We will restart some of the things that we needed to stop as we shifted focus to the crisis, but we realize they are important or necessary to reinstate for the benefit of our school. We will amplify all of the new things that were implemented out of necessity but proved to be wonderful ideas that helped our community grow. Over the summer, the leadership team at NDA will look closely at all aspects of our community to close 20-21 and look forward to beginning 21-22 even stronger.

As I close the May 2021 edition of the “View From My Office” during Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to thank every NDA teacher for everything they have done all year long. This year each one went above and beyond for our students and I am personally so appreciative of their time, creativity, and compassion for each other and our students. In the words of Carl Jung, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.”

I ask the good God to keep you in his infinite goodness and look forward to seeing so many community members as we celebrate year-end activities on campus!

Wishing you continued good health and springtime joy,

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 April 7th. As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, my windows are open and I enjoy the field hockey pre-game music and action on the field; Mia and Bianca are home, likely resting after our beautiful morning walk; I enjoy the bouquet of small pink roses which are beginning to open, and as I sip my afternoon cup of tea, I can’t believe that 4th quarter is upon us and planning for year-end activities is in full swing. It seems like just yesterday when we were just welcoming NDA students back on campus, reminding each to “remain in the bubble,” so uncertain about what this year would bring.

Though not over yet, this academic year has brought so much. Most of all, it has brought me great pride. The tenacity, adaptability, optimism, empathy, and care that each of our faculty, staff, and students have shown has been nothing short of amazing. Even as each individual has had to overcome obstacles in their personal lives, every person has also provided a tremendous amount of support and encouragement for others. Over the last few weeks, many teachers have had to take time off to obtain their vaccine. In some cases (like me!), the vaccine necessitated a little extra time out of the office to recuperate, and I was amazed at how quickly others would jump in to cover classes. I am so happy to report that almost all NDA staff who wanted the vaccine are completely vaccinated. Looking forward to the students having their opportunity next.

I am also very proud of the recent “Sport your Support” event hosted by NDA Student Council. In total they raised $1083.80, with the 9th graders donating $600. For this event, each grade chose a non- profit organization, and the proceeds were divided amongst each. The organizations that will be receiving donations include the Alzheimer's Association, National MS Society, National Breast Cancer Foundation, St. Jude’s Children Hospital for Childhood Cancer, ADAA, the ALS Association as well as the NDA Lenten Mission. Not only do we thank those who donated, but we give a big thank you to all teachers who agreed to get pied in the face. It was a big hit!

On March 31st, another big event happened on campus. With appropriate safety precautions and distancing in place, a few friends, family, and previous field hockey players of our beloved coach Patricia Provost came to witness her win her 600th field hockey game! As our field hockey coach, Miss Provost has had 600 victories, 159 losses, and 113 ties. She has won 4 state championships (1992, 2002, 2003, and 2005), 13 District Championships (92, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 02. 93, 04. 05, 06, 08), and has been a Central Mass Conference Champion for 23 consecutive years and 30 years total. Every athlete Patty has coached has memories to last a lifetime. Memories filled with a sense of belonging to a special family and feeling the confidence to do amazing things. Memories filled with rituals. Memories of her fur coat. Memories of her quotes and uplifting messages. Memories of lining up before a game and hearing her say "I wish you luck, I wish you a great game, and I wish you fun".

Patricia Provost embodies the spirit of a true NDA Rebel. As we look to reinvigorate and bring our NDA mascot, the Rebel, to life over the next few months, we will look at Patty for inspiration. On behalf of the entire NDA community, I would like to once again thank her for her passion for NDA, for loving our students, pushing our athletes, inspiring all of us - and reminding us all to always enjoy each and every moment. I promised her that when it is safe to invite every person whose life she has impacted to celebrate her incredible achievement with us, we will!

We also look forward to many upcoming Spring celebrations including our 8th grade promotion ceremony on June 3rd, our Junior/Senior Prom on May 14th, and Senior Graduation on May 30th. We are finalizing details for each event based on new guidance and will be sharing details shortly. However, I can share that graduation will occur on the traditional graduation lawn and each graduate will be able to invite 6 guests each. Although other schools may have to limit due to space constraints, because of our size, we can accommodate the maximum under the guidelines. We also hope to live stream for those who are not able to attend in person. I am very excited for all of the celebrations and hope that every community member continues to abide by the guidelines so we all stay healthy, and students can enjoy these traditional festivities.

The coronavirus pandemic has also unleashed an explosion of recent anti-Asian racism in the United States, ranging from derogatory slurs, to blaming the outbreak on people of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, to violent physical attacks. Recent events in our country remind us all that there is still so much work to be done. Silence or lack of acknowledgment in these events can contribute to the perpetuation of these incidents. As we all know - "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing." The fact is many children in the AAPI community live in fear that their parents or grandparents will be attacked when they simply go out for a walk or to perform a simple task like buying groceries. Notre Dame Academy publicly acknowledges the recent rise in anti-Asian crimes and denounces anti-Asian racism. Over the next few weeks, our social media will highlight how our students have been involved in these discussions both in the classrooms and in our Diversity Club.

Let us pray for the continued support and love to sustain the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, “women with hearts as wide as the world, make known God’s goodness and love with and among people living in poverty, through a Gospel way of life, community and prayer,” at Notre Dame Academy.

Wishing you springtime joy and continued good health,

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 March 24th. I had big plans for today’s “View.” Today, I planned to share that I would no longer begin my bi-weekly communication with the COVID statistics we have been watching grow over the last year. With the passing of the first anniversary of the pandemic announcement and the fact that, of the NDA Faculty and Staff planning on getting the vaccine, nearly 90% are fully or partially vaccinated and the remaining have appointments scheduled, I feel it is time to look ahead to the future with a positive lens.

Typically, I spend every other Wednesday morning reflecting on the incredible work of our students, faculty, and staff and ensuring that I am communicating important information that would be helpful to both current parents and the broader community. Of course, I have been told that this communication wouldn’t be the same without an update on Mia and Bianca as well. I assure you that they are both well and loving the spring beautiful weather.

While we have so much hope for the future, this week’s edition is instead a reminder that we are not yet at the finish line. Today we have had a positive case of COVID-19 within our in-person learning community. We were notified of the positive test result this morning and have just completed appropriate contract tracing following the DESE timeframe and guidelines. The members of the school community that were close contacts and at risk for potential exposure spoke with Mrs. Burke, NDA School Nurse, today. She has reviewed the next steps and any necessary quarantine with students who were a close contact as well as with their parents.

The school will remain open at this time and we will continue to utilize the CDC recommendations to reduce viral transmission and keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. All sanitation and cleaning measures remain in place. Please continue to direct your daughter(s) to follow the on-campus safety guidelines with hand sanitation, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Additionally, please remember to do the daily check for COVID symptoms and keep your daughter(s) home if needed. The checklist is:

 

  • Fever (100.4° Fahrenheit or higher), chills or shaking chills
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as a chronic cough)
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
  • ​​​​​​​Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

Even as we look ahead with a positive lens, we must not let our guard down. We appreciate the efforts of every family to help ensure our campus remains a safe environment during this challenging time. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. In my next communication, I will share some of the upcoming celebrations that the end of the school should bring! May the holy season of Lent continue to be a time of spiritual renewal.

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 March 10th. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 28,937,762 total cases and 524,695 total deaths resulting from COVID-19 in the US, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 116,874,912 total cases and 2,597,381 total deaths around the world. According to the researchers at Our World in Data, more than 319 million doses of vaccines have now been administered worldwide. The US alone has administered over 93.7 million. The Mass.gov weekly report indicates that as of March 4th, there have been 1,868,847 total cumulative vaccine doses administered in the state. At Notre Dame Academy, of the Faculty and Staff, planning on getting the vaccine, 23% are fully vaccinated, 50% are partially vaccinated, and 27% are still searching for available appointments. Last week, we had an opportunity to share our excitement about school staff vaccine eligibility with Spectrum News.

As I sit at the desk in my NDA office, my windows are open and I am so grateful for a sunny day knowing Spring is on the way; I know that Mia and Bianca are home wishing they were outside enjoying the sunshine; I enjoy the beautiful bright bouquet of flowers that sit on my desk, and as I sip my cup of tea, I can’t believe that my very first edition of the “View” was shared with the NDA community nearly a year ago. It read,

“Today is March 19th, the fourth day of Virtual School for Notre Dame Academy students. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 7,038 total cases and 97 total deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 191,127 total cases and 7,807 total deaths around the world. For sure, these are scary and challenging times with significant impacts globally and in our own individual lives.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, the rain patters on my windows; my dogs, Mia and Bianca, nap at my feet, happy to have me home but clueless to what is happening in the world; and I sip my cup of tea thinking about how much I already miss the sounds of the young women in the NDA hallways and classrooms.

As I sit at the desk in my home office, I am also struck by how well Notre Dame Academy faculty and students have adapted to a virtual learning environment in such a short period of time. As an NDA alumna, a mother of a recent graduate, and a Member of the Board of Trustees for five years, I am no stranger to the high standards of an NDA education. Nor is the idea that NDA has long been a community of people that care about, respect, and love each other a foreign concept to me. Yet the last few days I have watched the fundamental learning and the caring that is going on and I could not be prouder – NDA faculty and students have exceeded my expectations.

Though we continue to learn how to manage student assignments and workloads while ensuring we maintain personal connections, I have seen tremendous examples of varied teaching methods and the use of creative programs resulting in superb work from faculty and students. As a G-suite educational community where most classes were already using Google Classroom, NDA was quickly able to adapt and prepare for the extended time out of the classroom.

Over the last three days, I have watched teachers posting lessons in their Google Classrooms. These lessons have included self-made and internet videos or reading assignments in textbooks, as well as activities, to go along with the lesson.

Teachers are available on-line for questions or help and have held group chats and conference calls via Meet, Zoom, and other platforms as well. Students are engaged and the entire community has embraced our new way of learning.”

In reflecting on what I wrote in that first issue one year ago, I could not have imagined that the number of deaths around the world would have grown from 7,807 to 2,597,381. I did not fathom the depths of the economic and social disruption that would be caused by the pandemic or the significant toll on every aspect of our lives that we would endure. I didn’t know that COVID-19 would turn the world upside down and impact everything - how we live and interact with each other; how we learn, work, and communicate; how we move around and travel. I had no idea how much I would miss social gatherings - and hugs. Yet, I had great confidence that the Notre Dame Academy community would adapt and come together to learn, to pray, and to care. I was right. The last year has been anything but easy, but we have embraced the challenge and, as a result, we are stronger as humans, as learners, and as a community.

Our lives have been changed forever. Our school has been changed forever. It is my assertion that, for all of the ugliness the pandemic has brought in the last year, NDA has transformed in so many positive ways. Though not an easy feat, we have shown that, with modifications, education can occur in the classrooms on campus safely. Even competitive athletics are taking place! Teachers and students have learned new technology and new ways to connect. We have maintained our focus on our student and staff safety without losing sight of the importance of academic rigor or emotional and social well-being. Creativity, adaptability, and resilience have won.

It is fitting that this year’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8th was #ChooseToChallenge. This day recognizes the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women globally, and it's a call to action for gender parity. In a year full of challenges, Notre Dame Academy stands with those who inspire all individuals to challenge biases, question stereotypes and celebrate the achievements of women around the world. For sure, we instill the importance of doing so in our students every day.

While all things COVID have been the primary focus since March 13th, 2020, we have also made tremendous progress on many initiatives that we had planned to accomplish. This week we rolled out a refreshed course sequence for some academic departments as well as many new electives for upperclassman. Some of the 21-22 electives include the return of Women Writers, as well as new courses such as Social Protest and Social Change, Introduction to Engineering Design, Biotechnology, Ecological Studies, World Health & Bioethics, and Green Chemistry. Mrs. Butler, NDA Principal, and the STEM Academic Team have also been working incredibly hard, partnering with WPI to develop a brand new STEM Certificate for high school students this fall.

Our Campus Ministry program has continued to evolve to ensure a deepening of the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur based on the Hallmarks and the life of St. Julie Billiart. A “Notre Dame Academy Prayer” was created and is said each morning; afternoon prayer includes a focus on the liturgical year and current events. Over the coming months, you will continue to hear about additional initiatives that are part of our ongoing Strategic Planning efforts. And be on the look-out for announcements on Summer Programming that is being planned in conjunction with the Alliance for Catholic Schools, with St. John’s and Venerini Academy.

To hear ongoing updates, be sure to follow our NDA Facebook and Instagram pages. And all NDA Parents are always welcome to participate in the monthly Parent Association meeting, led by Tara Leahy. At the start of each meeting, I provide updates and answer parent questions.

Meetings occur on the first Monday of each month at 6 pm. Parents can also subscribe to a daily email that includes announcements and important reminders. To do so, click on the orange bell “Alert” icon under “All School News and Events” on the NDA homepage.

One of the most exciting announcements shared this week is that we have decided that the NDA Junior-Senior Prom is happening this year! One of the advantages to a small school is the ability to host Prom in a safe manner. The event will be held on Friday, May 14th at the AC Marriott Hotel in downtown Worcester. We will be following the AC Marriott's safety guidelines in accordance with the state of Massachusetts. Given I did not attend my high school prom, I am personally looking forward to attending my first Prom with the NDA Classes of 2021 and 2022. Let the dress shopping begin!

A quick reminder for current NDA families, please ensure that you have submitted the survey distributed by Ms. Haley if your daughter(s) is changing remote status for the 4th quarter.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I am looking forward to all of the excitement and celebrations that the end of the school should bring! In good times and in adversity, in contentment and in difficulty, may the Lord hold your hand and guide you to happiness and peace during Lent and always.

Lenten blessings,

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