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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.

Celebrating Women's History Month by Empowering Girls Together

Celebrating Women’s History Month by Empowering Girls Together

As Women's History Month comes to a close the Head of School at Notre Dame Academy and the CEO of Girls Inc. of Worcester are celebrating Women’s History Month by exploring their uniquely intertwined history and mission of empowering girls. 

Lisa Mancini (Notre Dame Academy) and Victoria Waterman (Girls Inc.) have a lot more in common than just leading two of the top gender-specific anchor institutions in the Worcester community. A quick look into their personal backstories shows a common thread of investing in girls from a young age. Lisa, herself a Girls Inc. of Worcester alum, recalls her early childhood memories making ceramic pinch pots in the same classrooms that girls are learning STEM in now. “From my mother, an Italian immigrant who became a nurse, and my father, a hard-working electrician, I learned about the importance of an education, hard work, and resilience,” said Lisa Mancini, Notre Dame Academy Head of School.   “From Girls Inc. I learned that girls can truly do anything and have fun while doing it. They inspire all girls to be strong, smart, creative, and bold. The power of being a girl became very apparent to me during my time at Girls Inc."” She proudly displays those same clay pieces in her office at Notre Dame Academy as inspiration for the next generation of girls to explore their potential. They are touchstones that remind Lisa of her full-circle journey from being inspired by a girl serving program at Girls Inc. to running an all-girl school. Notre Dame Academy (NDA) has been educating young women since 1951. With a 100% college acceptance rate, they are the only all-girl, catholic, independent school in Central MA. In addition to their strong curriculum, AP courses and dual-enrollment partnership with Assumption University, this Fall NDA will be introducing a STEM certificate program and an Arts Certificate program for students interested in pursuing either field.

Victoria, a recent recipient of Notre Dame Academy’s Knollwood Award, is similarly aware of the impact that her education at an all-girls high school has had on her career. “Whenever I’m asked to remember a teacher who made a difference in my life, I recall Sister Jackie who ignited my love of reading through discussions of female protagonists. Being in a gender-responsive environment showed me the importance of developing confidence and self-esteem through a sisterhood in which we held each other to high expectations and lifted each other up.” Girls Inc. is empowering the next generation of leaders to lift each up through gender-specific programs like Eureka!-- a 5-year STEM and Leadership program with a tremendous track record. 100% of graduates have gone on to post-secondary education and more than 65% have planned to major in STEM-related careers. That is double the national average- a success made possible by the investment of partners like Notre Dame Academy. Recently, young women from both organizations participated in a clean-up service project at Camp Kinneywood, a property owned by Girls Inc. Girls had the opportunity to share their own stories and work collaboratively to give back to the Worcester community.

With over 175 years of empowering girls between these two institutions, Notre Dame Academy and Girls Inc. of Worcester know the value of celebrating history. This month, they celebrate the women leaders of yesterday just as strongly as they celebrate the women leaders of tomorrow.

 

NOTRE DAME ACADEMY RECEIVES TWO AEDS FROM LOCAL FOUNDATION

NOTRE DAME ACADEMY RECEIVES TWO AEDS FROM LOCAL FOUNDATION

Worcester, MA- January 13, 2021- On January 8, 2021 Notre Dame Academy received a gift of two automated external defibrillators (AEDs) from the Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation. The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness in preventing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in children and adolescents and providing charitable assistance to individuals, families, and organizations. The organization was founded in 2011 in memory of twelve-year-old Josh Thibodeau who died of cardiac arrest while enjoying his favorite sport and past-time, soccer.

“We are truly thankful to the Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation for the donation of these AEDs,” said Lisa Mancini, Notre Dame Academy Head of School. “These devices are crucially important in ensuring that NDA is fully equipped and prepared in the event of a cardiac arrest event. The NDA community continues to be focused on the academic, social-emotional, and physical health of our students and the health and safety of those who visit our campus.”

“I am so grateful to The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation for the donation of an AED and alarm box,” said Rosanna Burke, RN, Notre Dame Academy school nurse. “This donation now allows each educational building on campus to house an AED which is important because they strengthen the chance of survival in victims of cardiac arrest. This donation, along with the continued training of students and staff will improve the chances for survival if God forbid an event like that should occur.”

“The NDA Athletic Department is thrilled to receive an additional AED that can be utilized during our athletic events,” said co-Athletic Director Caitlyn Germain. “This life-saving piece of equipment is truly a necessity for a school like ours that has multiple fields and multiple teams playing simultaneously on and off-campus.”

In addition, to show their commitment to safety, the athletic department partnered with the Worcester Fire Department to provide CPR/AED training to their coaching staff and interested NDA faculty members. Students in Mrs. Burke’s grade 10 health class also learn hands-free CPR and all are trained on the use of the AEDs.

 

With caution in mind, Notre Dame Academy open for classes

By George Barnes
Telegram & Gazette Staff
October 5, 2020

WORCESTER - Notre Dame Academy opened for classes just a few days later than normal this fall, as they finalized plans needed to keep students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a big step for the school, but something officials felt comfortable doing. Other than a few technology blips during the first few days, everything has gone pretty well, Head of School Lisa Mancini said. There are many changes at the school this year, but the overall academic offerings the students receive and the mission and traditions are the same.

The private Roman Catholic college preparatory day school serves girls in Grades 7 through 12. Sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the school welcomes girls of all faiths with an eye toward preparing students for their role as women in the world. With all the challenges, Mancini said the school has seen an increase in enrollment this year, reversing a dip over the past five to 10 years, a trend many schools are experiencing.

Like other private and public schools, the coronavirus pandemic has caused Notre Dame to find new ways of educating its students. Last spring that meant working online with Zoom classes and assignments given to students electronically. This summer it was decided that the school would reopen for in-person classes in the fall.

Mancini said the students now have the option of taking classes in-person or online. She said a large majority of the 197 students at the school have chosen in-person learning. A dozen students have chosen to attend remotely. Each semester they can decide if they want to change to in-person classes, but are offered both options.

Students have reacted positively to the changes, Mancini said.

“I think, honestly, they were so anxious to be back in an environment other than home,” Mancini said. “They were anxious to see their friends, even if it meant wearing a mask sitting apart.”

The students were all issued masks with the school’s logo but also are allowed to wear their own, although neck gaiters are prohibited.

To have enough room to socially distance, the school has repurposed the library as a classroom. The classrooms are set up with a microphone and a video camera. When a class has students who are attending from home, it is videotaped for them. If a student is unable to attend due to health reasons, it is also taped for later viewing.

Other things have changed as well. The dining room is now the student center with seats set apart for safe distancing. Students hang out there studying and socializing. It is still used for dining for some students, although the meals, which are ordered ahead, may also be eaten in classrooms or outside during good weather in various spaces, including a parking lot set up with table seating. The school also converted its dance room to store personal protective equipment and as a place students in the Love and Action community service program can work. The students study dance in the auditorium where there is more room.

Everyone wears a mask. It is mandatory. The hall floors are covered with stickers marking off 6-foot intervals. There are two hand sanitizer stations at the front door that students are expected to use as they enter. Some of the stairways go one direction to ensure proper spacing between students. So far all has gone well. No students have been confirmed with COVID-19, and things are going so well the school has started up its fall sports program, although there is some question whether it will have any opponents to play. It has also reinstituted school clubs and set aside time for students to attend club meetings.

The chemistry lab has not yet reopened, but a $20,000 grant the schools receive from the Office of Naval Research will allow them to set up six fully-equipped lab stations and provide resources needed for a variety of programs.

For the students, the changes have been an opportunity to learn new technology and discover skills they will take with them when they graduate and go to college.

“It was complicated at the start,” said senior Elizabeth Nompleggi, a Worcester student who is planning to attend the College of Holy Cross next year. “But we found new ways to adapt.”

Nompleggi said when the school went online in the spring, she had never used Google Classroom before. It became the school’s standard for holding classes online. The students sometimes met with their teachers for virtual classes and other times they were just given projects they worked on independently.

While attending school online, Nompleggi said she learned to love working on independent studies. It has helped her with time management, and because they were not meeting directly with the teacher, students found they needed to work hard to assert themselves if they did not understand an assignment or needed help.

Over the summer, the school put together three plans for the 2020-21 school year but decided on in-person learning with the option to Zoom in for students who had health concerns or families not yet comfortable with the closer contact with other students.

Principal Susan Butler and Dean of Students Emily Haley worked with Mancini to plan the reopening. Butler said it has so far been successful.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “We were right up and running.”

School nurse Rosanna Burke said she has been with the school 27 years, but this year offered unique challenges.

“I’m doing my best to make sure they are all safe,” she said. “They are all adapting really well but it was an adjustment in the beginning.”

The students have 80-minute classes, but halfway through the class, they get what is called a mask break. They are allowed to go outside as a group, stay 6 feet apart and remove their masks.

“The mask breaks help give them a chance to take a minute to breathe, to step back in a safe manner,” Burke said. “It is also very important that they are able to see each other and see their faces.”

Burke said it is especially important for the new students.

“It’s difficult to make friends if all you can see is a person’s eyes,” she said.

Even the Music Department has had to adapt to the new world of learning. In the music classroom the students work on music theory, but teacher Kallin Johnson said if they decide to do some singing, they have to go outside.

Mancini said for now the plan is to remain open and give the students the best education possible. If things change and problems with the pandemic return, the school would reconsider and could go back to remote learning.