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NDA In The News

Notre Dame Academy Announces 2022 Commencement Speaker


Worcester, MA- May 16, 2022- Notre Dame Academy announced on Friday that the commencement speaker for graduation will be Lynn Detarando Grden ’85.

Lynne Detarando Grden graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 1985. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Hazardous Material Management from Tufts University.  Lynne has worked on major construction projects over the past few decades as a project manager for companies like Haley & Aldrich, GZA Environmental, and Stone & Webster where she was responsible for client development and remediation engineering design for the $1.5 billion airport modernization program at Logan International Airport for MASSPORT.  Lynne is currently a top-producing realtor for Keller Williams in Westborough.

Lynne was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of five and faced many medical complications and physical challenges throughout her life. As her medical condition deteriorated, her need for supplemental oxygen increased and she lost her ability to speak and function independently and subsequently was placed on the donor list for a double lung transplant. Several attempts throughout the years to secure an appropriate match were thwarted and Lynne eventually entered hospice care. 

However, in 2015 a suitable donor was found and Lynne was urgently flown to Cleveland Clinic where she underwent lengthy, but successful, lung transplantation surgery.  During the last seven years, Lynne has taken advantage of a “new lease on life” and engaged in physical activities once unimaginable. She hikes, swims, travels and fulfilled a dream to visit Italy where she climbed Mount Etna.

Grateful for the expansive community support she and her family received throughout her life and especially during her many hospitalizations, Lynne now devotes much of her time as a volunteer and spokesperson for New England Donor Services (NEDS). She regularly shares her story of perseverance, resilience, faith, love of family and community, and hope for the future.  Lynne has inspired audiences at various community events, in hospitals, at medical conferences, high schools, church groups, and professional organizations.  Passionate about catholic education, Lynne also volunteers at St. Mary School and St. John’s high school as well as serving on the board of Rainbow Child Development Center.  


NDA Celebrates Black History Month-Non-Racism vs. Anti-Racism

As Black History Month comes to a close, it is important to recognize that February is not the only time we should be celebrating Black excellence. We need to take a stand against racism and support people of color during all months of the year. But, it is not enough to simply be “not racist”. We must actively be anti-racist, fighting intolerance and discrimination in our communities.

Non-racism is, to put it simply, not being racist. But, this should only be the first step in our journeys of acceptance, love, and justice. Stating that you are “not racist” is great, but it doesn’t solve the overall problems that people of color face in the world. Racism is not just large acts of violence and hate groups, it can also come in subtle forms. Stereotyping, microaggressions, and lack of representation are all acts of racism, as well. 

The first step in being anti-racist is to take a step back and be willing to educate yourself. It is okay to be in the wrong, but what is important is being able to grow from mistakes. You should seek out the voices of people of color who advocate for change and amplify them. The key to anti-racism is action. Action does not necessarily always mean protesting. It can be donating to funds, choosing to support black-owned businesses, educating the people around you, and so on. Students can use their voices to speak up for those in need and spread awareness to friends and family. Parents and alumni can choose to shop at Black-owned businesses, donate to charities, and have insightful conversations about modern-day activism with their loved ones. Faculty can make sure to incorporate Black history into their classrooms with activities, history lessons, literature picks, and important Black figures and discoveries in their fields. Below, we have come up with a list of reputable charities, education resources, and organizations that can help you take an active role in being anti-racist, as well as some local Black-owned businesses you can support. Happy Black History Month!” 



- Color of Change: mepage_header 

- BYP100: 


- The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad 

- We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden 

- March (Books One, Two and Three) by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis - PODCASTS 

- Code Switch 

- Pod Save the People 

- School Colors

- Race through education 

- A Black Educator’s Truth 

- Speaking of Racism 

- Black Girls Heal 

- Black Girls Teach the Podcast 

- Black on Black Education Podcast 

- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast 


- The Wise Channel 

- TED 

- Race Forward 


- Taproot Treasures (1200 West Boylston Street, Worcester) 

- Demoiselle Accessories (342 Main Street, Worcester) 


- List of Shows A to Z | Black History & Culture | PBS 

- Color blind or color brave? | Mellody Hobson - YouTube 

- This Is How the American Healthcare System Is Failing Black Women: women/ 

- Advocacy for Black Lives: 

- Cared Calgary Anti-Racism Education: - What to know about microaggressions: 

- When Black Women Lead, We All Win: 10 Inspiring Leaders Show Us The Way:

- Code-switching: 4 Forum voices on what it is – and why we need to talk about it:


For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 13, 2021




Worcester, MA- October 13, 2021- Notre Dame Academy is excited to announce the addition of three certificate programs in STEM, Arts, and Global Perspective Studies. of a STEM, Arts, and Global Perspectives Certificate program. “Our certificate programs are a commitment by our students to take a “deeper dive” into a chosen discipline during their junior and senior year, culminating in a capstone presentation and portfolio.” explained Principal Susan Butler. The following certificate programs will be offered beginning this year.

  • Global Perspective Studies - The Notre Dame Academy Global Perspective Studies (GPS) Certificate is designed to help NDA students prepare for their role in the global community. In the spirit of Notre Dame Academy, St. Julie Billiart, and the Sisters of Notre Dame, this certificate program challenges our students to become both linguistically and culturally fluent through a challenging high school curriculum, cultural connections, and real-world experiences to prepare them to enter college and become aware of the challenges of our constantly evolving world.
  • Salisbury Certificate of the Arts - The mission of this certificate is to recognize students who have dedicated themselves to a challenging high school arts curriculum and real-world experiences that will prepare them for entrance into prestigious Arts colleges and universities. It is also intended to heighten student art experiences in order to prepare for careers and to build more skilled consumers of Visual and Performing Arts.
  • STEM Excellence- the Notre Dame Academy STEM Excellence certificate acknowledges students for their achievements and involvement in STEM-related activities. This certificate recognizes students who have dedicated themselves to a challenging high school curriculum and real-world experiences that will prepare them to enter college and lay the groundwork for careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics in a changing society. The opportunity to work with experts in the field and current technology both within the school and the community will be an essential part of the program and prove invaluable as students complete their capstone projects.

For more information on the NDA certificate program visit

Notre Dame Academy Board of Trustees Elects Three New Members to Board: Brett Bottamini, Elissa Boisvert, and Linda Cavaioli

Press Release: Notre Dame Academy Board of Trustees Elects Three New Members to Board: Brett Bottamini, Elissa Boisvert, and Linda Cavaioli


Worcester, MA – September 17, 2021: Notre Dame Academy Board of Trustees is excited to welcome Brett Bottamini, M. Elissa Boisvert, and Linda Cavaioli to their Board of Trustees.

Brent Bottamini has more than 18 years of experience in the global investment management industry working at Fidelity Investments, Manulife Asset Management (John Hancock), and most recently joining a former Fidelity colleague to launch Lucerna Global Capital, a global emerging markets hedge fund, as the Managing Director of Research.  Brent served for 10 years as a member of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst Foundation Board, and he has held other advisory board positions in both academia and private industry.  In 2020, after some time away from the investment management industry, Brent launched Collective Society - a mission-based apparel business with an ambition to celebrate sport's unique ability to unite diverse communities - with Larry Jackson, a long-time friend and former New England Revolution player.  Brent and his wife Deirdre are the proud parents of Alexandra, Notre Dame Academy class of 2026, and Jack, St. John's High School class of 2025.

Linda Cavaioli, former Executive Director of the YWCA Central Massachusetts, is a well-respected and active member of the Worcester Community. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Quinsigamond Community College, and as Chair of Audit and Oversight, a Member Emeritus of the Community Board of DCF Worcester West Area Office and a Commissioner Emeritus of the   Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She also serves on the Martin Luther King Community Breakfast Committee, City Manager’s Task Force on Bias and Hate, and United Service Executives. She also has served as regional chair of the YWCAs New England Council and Chair of the YWCA USA Regional Leadership Committee. Before joining the YWCA, Linda was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Resource Development at the United Way of Central Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Clark University. Linda and her husband John Medbury are the proud parents of five children and 11 grandchildren.

Elissa Boisvert’86, P ’10 and ‘15 is vice president, deputy general counsel for Jabil Inc., leading the legal team that supports Jabil Healthcare.  Elissa and her team serve as trusted business advisors to Jabil Healthcare, providing practical guidance and creative solutions that enable Jabil Healthcare business strategies and strategic growth initiatives, and supporting all phases of transactions and regulatory and healthcare compliance matters.   Prior to joining Jabil, Elissa was a Senior Associate at Gesmer Updegrove LLP (f/k/a Lucash, Gesmer & Updegrove), a boutique technology law firm in Boston, Massachusetts, and Associate at Bowditch & Dewey, LLP, a full-service law firm in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Elissa earned a B.A. from Smith College and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.   Elissa lives in Worcester with her husband Randy Barko and chocolate Labrador Murphy.

“Notre Dame Academy is honored to have the commitment of Mr. Bottamini, Ms. Boisvert, and Ms. Cavaioli as new members of our Board of Trustees,” said Vice-Chair Kathleen Myshrall. “Their combined professional expertise and experience, along with their passion for the NDA Mission, will help drive our strategic plan and ensure we deliver excellence in the education of girls and young women.”

2021 Graduation Speaker- JoAnn Massarelli '75 (Full Speech Transcript)

Good afternoon!

It is my great privilege to be here with you, Bishop McManus, teachers and staff of Notre Dame, parents, family members, members of the board, and especially with you class of 2021 on your graduation day! Thank you so much for having me.

It is remarkable when I look out on this scene just how familiar it is. I graduated 46 years ago and it is a strange déjà vu I'm having right now: same diplomas, same yellow roses, same Sister Ann, same Sister Evelyn, same Patty Provost…

However…I don’t mean to suggest that nothing has changed: as a matter of fact…(presented school uniform) I wore this every day for 4 years!

Uniform notwithstanding…The familiarity of this place is a wonderful and affirming segue for the message that I chose for you today and that is: 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. 

Just the fact that this school exists (and a women’s school I will add) based on a tradition begun almost 220 years ago attests to constancy in a real way. The reason I want to talk about things that don't change, is because as citizens of the 21st-century we are led to believe that everything is up for grabs everything is in constant flux all is changeable and that truth is relative in the sense of your truth and my truth, And what a year we've had! It's just hard to discern what is real never mind what is true! Is it real news or fake news? Is it mask / no mask / double mask vaccine / no vaccine / which vaccine? There's just so many voices to listen to! It’s very confusing! absurd even! We do well to remember what Voltaire said when he warned us: “those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.

So what we need is a rock to cling to, a little patch of ground, a little country on which to stand amidst all the earthquaking chaos that surrounds us. And this is especially important as you go forth from Notre Dame, as you enter the larger world and as you sort out your place as mature women within it.

So I’m going to share some big ideas, rocks to stand on, that come to me from my family, my education, from my work with people with disabilities, from my community life in offering our home to people who don’t have a home and certainly from my faith as a Roman Catholic.

There is indeed objective reality and such a thing as truth with a capital T. Not only religions, but most ancient and current wisdom traditions acknowledge absolute truths. They describe them as gifts provided by a creator divinity for our own good and for the good of all humanity. Yet even a notion as basic as this one has been called to question.

But this is my point: truth about how the world works and about what is important in life is accessible to us, we just need to know where to look for it. If we focus on the popular and the powerful we will miss it, because the powerful have a vested interest in perpetuating deceptions to keep themselves in power. So if not from the powerful then from where? From the poor, the impaired, the vulnerable, the lowly. The least among us are so often in the best position to teach us about important truths, especially the ones that the world spends much time, talent, energy, and money trying to deny. One big truth is suffering is a part of every human life.

Now I know that suffering is not a typical topic for a graduation speech! But bear with me: when we can unflinchingly stare suffering in the face, so often what we find hiding in the pain is wisdom and love. I speak from my experience of opening our home and sharing our life with homeless people, and from my work with people with disabilities, but I learned it first here at Notre Dame first.

In the early 1970s the Love In Action program at Notre Dame was relatively new. My best friend Sharon O'Connor and I decided that we would volunteer at the Saint Francis home, each one of us adopting a grandmother to spend time with. We met Sharon's grandmother first and she was charming! They planned on going shopping and having lunch and they just really enjoyed one another's company right away. And then I was introduced to my grandmother. Mine was severely mentally affected. She talked constantly, I couldn't understand a word she was saying and probably the worst thing was, she couldn't make eye contact with me, she looked at me, but beyond me and frankly I was afraid of her.

So I resolved to get a new grandmother: someone nice, someone witty like Sharon’s. Well that night at dinner, my father as he always did went around the table and asked each one of us what did you do today? So I told him I was at the Saint Francis home but I got a kind of a loser grandmother and so I was planning to frankly trade her in for a better one. My dad just looked at me. Made me uncomfortable. Obviously, he didn’t get it. I said she didn't even know whether I was there or not!  My father then said: “Oh. I thought the name of the program was love in action. It's hard to love when you're not even in the same room.”

So I went back and I stayed in the room and I listened. And as the weeks went by I could discern a pattern in her constant monologue: I heard her say her grandfather had lost his mind in World War I and her husband had lost his life in World War II. She lost her son in Vietnam. She was singing the song of suffering and I just witnessed it.

And one day she greeted me! Another day she told me she liked my company! We never really had what you could call a conversation but we definitely had a connection and for me that was formative.

You see the word compassion means a sharing in another’s suffering. This woman taught me that compassion is not so much something you give as it is something you receive and share. That is an essential lesson that I cannot stress enough.

So my first piece of advice to you (because I get to do that from up here) is don't run away from suffering people. Even seek them out. And even if you can do nothing for them but offer your presence as a gift - that is love, true compassion. Not a small matter!  Now you're going to get busy in life and this will not come naturally, to spend time with suffering people. But if you can manage to regularly make that time even for just a few hours here and there, your life will be richer than if you spent those same hours gainfully employed, making only money.

Another big truth that has been passed down from the ages since ancient times, by every culture, in every place, until now, is that we human beings have a transcendent nature, a spiritual nature, we are more than our material physical bodies. Therefore our souls, along with our bodies, need to be nourished or else we perish the same way we would if we were being starved of food.

And so when we make time for prayer, reflection, silence and contemplation it brings forth an understanding that we are not the center of the universe but at the same time it provides the certain knowledge that each one of us is of inestimable worth, a unique and an unrepeatable and therefore precious entity, infused with a spark of the divine.

And therein lies our beauty and our dignity - a dignity that can never be destroyed

not by a bad boss

nor an abusive relationship nor a catastrophic illness

not by the betrayal of a friend nor by a failed marriage

nor by our own weakness and sinfulness not by anything.

Our dignity as human beings is a given whether we know it or not. But when we cultivate our inner life we develop an appreciation for it, a certain knowledge of it - and that we can take to the bank - that carries us through life.

I was evaluating a human service agency that runs living arrangements for people with psychiatric problems. One of the people served joined our final administrative interview. This guy had had enormous suffering in his life: he had lived in a mental hospital for 40 of his 60 years, he had gotten beaten up and lost the use of his left arm, he was experimented on with all kinds of drugs… when I asked if he wanted to make a statement for the evaluation team he stood up, straightened his back and said in a steady and powerful voice: “many call me mentally ill, but no one, no one, can call me morally ill.” This man understood his inherent dignity and it got him through extreme adversity.

So my second piece of advice is to take the time to nurture your soul. Spend time in silence, alone. Turn off the screens and take out the earbuds. Spend time in nature. Put it on your bucket list to go on a silent retreat that lasts longer than one day. Cultivate a habit of contemplation and reflection, and in doing so appreciate your beauty and your dignity and the dignity of those around you.

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…

Thank you, and God bless!

Jo Massarelli is a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame Academy and a 1979 graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Comparative Theology. She is the Director of the SRV Implementation Project, a human service training and consultation concern. She divides her time between teaching and working with families, human service staff and people with impairments to bring about positive change, one person at a time. She is the founder of the Medical Safeguards Project, teaching physicians and nurses about the particular vulnerability of impaired people in medical settings and how to provide them state-of-the-art care. She has taught at workshops and lectured at conferences across the United States, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to a variety of human service workers serving a wide range of people devalued due to mental impairment, mental disorder, physical impairment, age, and poverty. Ms. Massarelli has evaluated dozens of human service programs for children, adults and elders, including residential, day and work programs, schools, hospice, services, prisons, and homeless shelters. Jo Massarelli and her husband Marc Tumeinski are members of the Catholic Worker in Worcester, responding to the needs of homeless people in the downtown neighborhood where they live. Appreciating the ideal of voluntary hospitality, they welcome homeless people to live with them and share their lives together as valued members of their household.