An Experience in Common
BY GRACE SCHLECK '19
Out of a random occurrence, I recently ran into a Mount alumna. We immediately connected over our time at the Mount: one that does not end when a person graduates and walks out of the Mount doors for the last time as a student. I understand I can only speak to my own experiences, but all Mount alumnae can speak to a common experience: a Mount experience.
I think the Mount has changed me to think outside of my own perspective. I believe one cannot measure success as a mere number, but rather an accumulation of experiences and growth. I met some of my greatest mentors--people who have changed me to think outside of my own perspective--at the Mount. Teachers have encouraged me to see the world through many lenses: those of a student, advocate, woman, and human being. One of the teachers at the Mount introduced me to the field of economics. Not only has she empowered so many of her students to be fiercely and unapologetically female in fields such as economics, but she has inspired me to further study economics in college. From Politics and Government to Spanish to Math to English to Theology, the rigorous academics at the Mount have prepared me to think critically and creatively. I question the world around me, and I know "better" is inadequate to compensate for the systemic injustices prevalent around the globe.
I have met some of my closest friends at the Mount. They have inspired me to be a better student and person. My classmates are the next environmental activists, economists, journalists, diplomats, astrophysicists, computer scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, and nonprofit leaders. As women, we continue to face gender-constructed barriers to success. We do not see gender as a societal constructed hindrance, but rather an empowering part of our identities. There is hatred, disarray, and disappointment stemming in this world, even stemming from world and religious leaders. We need young people to lead movements characterized by mercy, humility, and integrity. I think the Mount sends strong people out into a world in need of joy and compassion.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Mount. The Mount has helped me to ground myself in mercy and a genuine love for learning. Whether it be presenting to diplomats at the German embassy to travelling to Wisconsin with a team of girl bosses to the National Forensics competition to co-leading an amazing Peer Facilitators team, the Mount has shaped me to be a better leader and person. I am my own person, and the Mount's teachers and resources have expanded me to become the person I am today and hopefully am going to become.
I am proud to stand alongside the Class of 2019, all the friends I have made around the world, and all the amazing teachers and mentors I have met at the Mount. Although we may go on to study at universities and colleges across the U.S., live in homes around the world, and pursue different career paths, we all have a common experience of a Mercy education: one that I could have only imagined acquiring at the Mount. I think it has fostered a deep appreciation in me for others' experiences. The Mount stresses the importance of not only thinking academically, but also with empathy, compassion and mercy.
My sister will soon join the Class of 2023, and I will be off to study at Barnard College of Columbia University. My sister and I will also share a common experience of a Mercy education.
As I walked out of the Mount for the last time as a student, I know that I am not only graduating with my own little sister or alongside 96 other siblings, but with a network of thousands of Mounties. Whether we graduated in 1908 or 2019, we all share a common experience: a Mount experience.
At Mount Saint Mary Academy, Our Daughters Develop
the Skills to Contribute Meaningfully and Acquire the Practical Tools for Landing a Seat at the Table within the Highest Ranks of Their Passion
By Mrs. Cecilia Fontana, mother of natalie '20 and Julianne '22
Having only experienced public school education up through Middle School created some anxiety when deciding to venture out to the private/parochial school sector. However, after my family started to gain an initial understanding as to how parochial schools operate and the different ways in which they approach education, we became intrigued.
I have found that at Mount Saint Mary Academy, there isn't the requirement to address every social ill that young adolescents encounter so, as a result, more time can be spent on academics. The Mount has a much different method to address education because they see our girls as spiritual beings, that if nurtured property, most - if not all - the challenges in their world they face during this time of growth can be confidently faced and conquered and that this will be an asset for the future. These challenges include approaching the tough curriculum by improving your own skill sets to overcome obstacles, dealing with friends and boys, and handling all of the outside pressures by reaching within yourself and finding your spiritual being. My older daughter has grown into an extremely mature and confident young lady. I truly believe this has come about due to her experience at the Mount.
The atmosphere that surrounds the girls at the Mount is much different and it starts on Day 1. My younger daughter, who just finished her freshman year in June 2019, wanted to attend our local, public high school because she wanted to go to school with her friends from Middle School. My husband and I explained to her that we would like her to give the Mount a try if she could get accepted and that if she was not happy after one year, we would move her to the public high school. She agreed, and on her first day, she made friends with a girl who is now one of her best friends. They had navigated the large expanse of buildings together, and in doing so, formed a bond immediately. Months later, as I proceeded to enroll her for sophomore year, I had a glitch with my computer and had to enter her enrollment contract later than the deadline. When I explained this to my daughter, her face turned bright red and she almost cried thinking that she wouldn't be able to attend the Mount because I missed the deadline.
Her overall attitude improvement on so many levels in just one year has made me and my family fall deeper in love with the Mount, which is hard to imagine as we already loved the school from our older daughter's experience.
I truly cannot tell anyone that your daughter will have a very good education and nice experience at the Mount, but I can tell you that your daughter will have a SUPERB education as they will be experiencing an all-encompassing education. It will be something special beyond what you are most likely thinking when you first arrive at the Mount for Open House.
There Are Many Reasons to Choose the Mount
BY Mrs. Kerry Mooney, mother of bridget '22
My husband Brian and I are both the products of Catholic school education (12 and 19 years, respectively). I attended an all-girls Catholic high school and want the same wonderful experience for my daughters. Bridget attended eight years in public school in Westfield and had amazing teachers and a positive experience. Her transition to a smaller, all-girls, religious school was seamless.
The freshmen are welcomed by the entire school with a "clap in" on their first day. How can you be made to feel more welcome? Each day, she seemed less and less concerned with her appearance. She was liberated by her uniform and the aura of self-assurance and acceptance that looms throughout the hallways. Because Bridget was not distracted by any superficiality, she could focus on things that really matter to her. She played field hockey for the first time and swam for the Mount. She also participated in a number of clubs. The variety of clubs and activities is astounding. Her small class sizes enabled her to build a great rapport with her teachers and fellow classmates. It encouraged great dialogue.
There are many reasons why people choose the Mount: small class sizes, athletic programs, college acceptances, faith-based or all-girls environment. Bridget has gotten all of that, but so much more. She is experiencing the development of the whole person. I'm sure that she would have had a successful high school experience in our town, but I don't think she would have flourished the way she has at the Mount. She has fully embraced the sisterhood and taken part in activities that she may have been disinclined to try in a larger environment. For me, the most fulfilling part is her spiritual growth.
When Bridget was studying for her mid-terms, I shared wisdom that I received from my father: "Study hard and pray to God." (It rhymes if you have a NY accent!) She was stressed and did not appear to take in what I was saying. That day, in between exams, Bridget went to the Chapel where students are able to pray and/or meditate with faculty. I was so happy to hear that the Mount offered this service and that Bridget took advantage of it. She is learning that, in times of trouble, she can always turn to God. She is also learning that she needs to take care of herself, especially during stressful times. She is honing good coping skills.
I am writing this as New York City (and the world) celebrate the U.S. Women's Soccer Team. The struggle for equality continues. I see slogans stating, "The Future is Female." When your daughter goes to the Mount, "Now is Female!" The bleachers are filled with fans that are there to watch the girls play, the school president is a girl, the winners of the Model UN and Euro Challenge are girls, If you want your daughter to love mercifully and magnificently and stand up to injustice, send her to the Mount. If you want her to go confidently into the world without second-guessing her qualifications because of her gender, send her to the Mount.
The Mount cultivates a strong sense of self and an understanding that you deserve a seat at the table. For these reasons and so many more, we sent our daughter to Mount Saint Mary Academy and it has made all the difference.
"I Wouldn't Trade My Experience for Anything"
BY Hanna Guarnuccio '18
Before starting high school, lots of people told me that high school is some of the best years of your life and I can confidently say that those people were right because I would not trade my experience at Mount Saint Mary Academy for anything. When I was visiting high schools in the 7th and 8th grade, I knew I wanted a school that provided me with three things: academic rigor, an opportunity for spiritual growth, and a supportive school community. I quickly found all of these things at the Mount, making it an incredible four years.
As a senior preparing for college next year, there are lots of things to consider in terms of where I want to go and what I want to study, but no matter what decisions I make, one thing is for certain -- I will be ready. Because of the tremendous course options, the Mount has prepared me so well for college that I feel confident about my ability to handle the course load next year. The Mount has allowed me to take college-level classes in subjects that truly interest me such as macroeconomics, comparative government and politics, and computer science -- courses that not many schools offer. Because of this ability to study what you like, the Mount fosters a community of individuals who are passionate about learning - an environment that I have found incredibly motivating. Plus, a benefit to the small school size is the individual attention each student receives from teachers. Over the years, I have gotten to know my teachers and they really are invested in my success, always helping me in any way they can. The academic rigor in addition to the supportive teaching staff is one of the main reasons I have enjoyed my Mount experience so much.
My faith is something that is very important to me. I attended Catholic grammar school, go to church every weekend with my family, and I am a leader in my parish youth group. So, finding a school that provided me with the opportunity to deepen my faith was key. I found this at the Mount through the annual class-level retreats and masses throughout the year. Soon, I will be attending Kairos, a four-day retreat for seniors, and I am really looking forward to it! We also have Service Day each year when each grade participates in a different service activity in the surrounding community. One of my favorite memories from this day was sophomore year when my group volunteered at a nursing home in Summit. I talked to many of the elderly people at the the home and learned their stories. It was a great way for me to connect with and serve my community. I appreciate all the opportunities for spiritual growth that the Mount has provided and will cherish those experiences for a lifetime.
Finally, I have loved my Mount experience because of the community. All-girls schools create a stress-free environment where you can just be yourself. Over the years, I have become very involved in the Mount community as I am a member of the Student Council Executive Board, a Peer Facilitator Mentor, and captain of the Varsity Soccer team. This has allowed me to connect to my school community and what I have come to understand is that the Mount is unlike any other school. The Mount community, or as we like to say, MOUNT PACK, is full of motivated, supportive people who want you to be the best you can be always. I am so happy that I decided to become a member of the Mount Pack four years ago and hope that you do the same!
Mount Saint Mary Academy:
The Right Foundation for High School Women Today
by Mrs. Daria MacDonald, mother of Erica '19 and Julia '16
The high school years are challenging and formative years for any teen. Finding the right school for your child during this time is as important as any decision you will make in this stage of their life. What parent doesn’t want their child be in an environment where they can grow, find fulfillment and be happy? Mount Saint Mary Academy (MSMA) provides young women a place where this can happen and so much more.
When considering high schools for our daughters, we researched the options much like you would when considering a college choice: what size is the school, where is it located, what is the student body like, what is the ratio of faculty to student, what is its academic success, what extra-curricular opportunities are available. After reviewing public and private options, and going through the rigors of visits, orientations, and varied admissions processes, we chose MSMA for our daughters and could not have been happier with that choice.
MSMA has not only provided a superior academic experience for our girls as a leading, accredited college prepatory school, but it has become a second home to our daughters. Here, they have been encouraged to stretch themselves to their fullest potential with the help of a dedicated, caring, and engaged faculty and staff that take personal interest in each student. Our daughters have been challenged to identify and pursue their passions and interests --academically, artistically, athletically, and socially. And, they have been instructed to seek opportunities where they can actualize these interests into life building experiences -whether it be through a course of study, a club, a team or an activity.
But particularly important at MSMA is the emphasis on developing the whole person. As an independent, all-girls Catholic school, young women grow and perform in an environment where they can be authentic and themselves without undue judgement or criticism. In addition to focusing on the traditional aspects of high school life, our girls have been encouraged to develop their spiritual life as well – not only as an academic exercise, but through service opportunities where they are able to put their belief system into practice. They are taught to look beyond their days on the Hill and their life at home, to the communities in which they live and to the world that they will embrace as they move into adulthood. They have learned to both lead and follow – to handle successes and adversity – to find their voice and to be heard – and to hear and respond to the call of others seeking assistance with action.
We have witnessed the growth and development of our daughters as confident, independent, intelligent, accomplished, enthusiastic, caring women. And, we have seen the foundation and tools provided by MSMA put to use in mastering education at the high school level and into college. We would recommend MSMA to any young woman who seeks a high school experience that provides the opportunities to learn and grow as an individual, as a student, as a member of many communities and as a woman of spiritual strength and integrity. We need such women in our world today and we are confident that Mount Saint Mary Academy succeeds in fostering these women. We know because they have done just that for us.