The following profiles were originally published in the alumni newsletter as listed.
A. Ross Pini Jr.Click for full story.
The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has named A. Ross Pini, Jr. as a 2004 NCEA Elementary School Distinguished Graduate. Ross graduated from Mercymount in 1967 and currently is 1st Assistant Magistrate, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Trial Court on Wrentham, Massachusetts. He also graduated from Lawrence Academy, The College of the Holy Cross and New England School of Law.
Sponsored by the NCEA’s Department of Elementary Schools in cooperation with Mercymount Country Day School, the award goes to Ross for outstanding personal and professional achievements. Throughout his career, he has consistently pursued the highest possible professional and personal standards, attempting to temper the rule of law with compassion and mercy for the person before him. In 2000, the Norfolk County Bar Association named him “Person of the Year.” Ross was also awarded the “Amicus Curie” award by the Massachusetts Bar Association in recognition of his human treatment of those who stand accused before him.
At Mercymount, Ross has served on many boards and committees. He currently serves as president of the Alumni Association. He has also been very active within his parish and town through various committees and commissions. Ross credits Mercymount with preparing him in a unique way to meet the responsibilities of adult life. The product of a Catholic education at Mercymount and The College of the Holy Cross, “I believe that a Catholic education gives one moral and religious training to form an overall philosophy of life,” said Ross. He resides in North Attleboro, Massachusetts with his wife, Beverly and son, A. Ross, III, A Mercymount 8th grade student.
Originally published Spring 2003
Robert DeBloisClick for full story.
On Wednesday, March 12, 2008 Robert DeBlois, MCDS Class of 1968, returned to his elementary school alma mater for the first time in 40 years. He was recognized for his extensive work in the field of educating at-risk youth as Sr. Martha Mulligan presented him with the NCEA Distinguished Graduate Award. Rob is the founder and director of the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program in Providence. UCAP is an accelerated middle school program for youth from Central Falls, Providence and Cranston who are at risk for dropping out of school. The students must be behind one to two grade levels; this program brings them back up to grade level so that they have the opportunity to graduate from high school relatively on time. Since it’s inception in 1989, the school has educated over 1,200 students. Rob personally touches all of these students, knowing their names and situations. The school provides activities and opportunities for life learning as well as traditional classroom environments.
After Mercymount, Rob went on to Cranwell Academy in Lenox, MA (the school has since closed). He then attended The University of New Hampshire. In his junior year, he broke his neck in a diving accident, becoming a quadriplegic. His life was defined by a revelation as he lay in the hospital bed with no control of his body from the shoulders down. Although his life would be difficult going forward, he realized that all his life he had, and would continue to have, loving support from his family and friends. He always felt as though he was a valued and special person, while many youth do not have such a supportive environment. Rob was determined to pay that privilege forward and dedicated his life’s work to educating underprivileged youth.
Rob completed his undergraduate degree in English Education at UNH. He went on to earn a Masters Degree in English from Brown University and a M.Ed. in Secondary Administration from Rhode Island College. He was recognized as an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy by Rhode Island College in 1993. Dr. DeBlois has an extensive background in education theory and practice. He has served on numerous regional boards and committees, including the Rhode Island Association of School Administrators, Seekonk Library Trust, Charter School External Review Committee, Dorcas Place, The Wheeler School and Rhode Island Special Olympics. This is the short list of his volunteer service! He has been recognized for his work and service by many other organizations. His response when approached to receive this NCEA award was, “I’m sure there are many other alumni whom Mercymount can honor besides me.” His humble nature is just one of the many attributes that make up the remarkable man that is Rob DeBlois.
Rob was introduced at a breakfast prior to the ceremony where he was joined by his wife, Bonilyn, and Andrea Joseph, the Development Director at UCAP. A few Mercymount contemporaries were on hand to participate as well: Ross Pini, ’67, Tom McCoy, ’69 and Elizabeth McCoy, a member of the Class of 1972. Rob’s brothers are MCDS grads as well: Arthur, ’64; John, ’67; and Mark, ’70. The breakfast was held in honor of the Sisters of Mercy Foundation Day, the day when Frances Warde brought the order to the northeast United States.
After the breakfast, Rob and Bonilyn were escorted to the gymnasium where he was greeted by the entire school and entertained by the band playing an excellent rendition of Trumpet Voluntary. Lisa Lydon introduced him at which time Sr. Martha presented him with the National Catholic Educational Association Distinguished Graduate Award for 2008. Dr. DeBlois then addressed the students and faculty. He reminisced about baseball games at lunch that sometimes extended for 2 hours, 48 students in his class and meeting the “board of education” a few times in the principal’s office. He emphasized that all of those in the room were lucky to be in a great school with tremendous support and care from their family, teachers and friends. He encouraged them to think of those youth that are not as lucky, and to always remember that they are each unique and special.
Rob presented Sr. Martha with a blue ribbon emblazoned with “I am unique and special” citing her 50 years as a Sister of Mercy as such an example. He then charged her with the task of presenting such a ribbon to all of the faculty, who will then pass it along to the students in their classes, pointing out a special quality in each. The blue ribbons will be donated to the school courtesy of Dr. DeBlois. The idea is one that he plans to carry out at his school as well. (More information can be obtained at http://www.blueribbons.org.)
Rob graciously answered a few questions from the students, ranging from “how did it feel when you broke your neck” to “how do the teachers know how we are each special.” Two Mercymount students, sisters Erin and Caroline Harten, performed Irish step dancing routines in honor of Foundation Day and the assembly ended with a spirited rendition of the school song, “The Suscipe.”
Rob and Bonilyn live in Seekonk with their three children: Justin and Eric who are in college, and teenage daughter, Sherry. We congratulate Rob on his life’s work. Rob is truly a “work of mercy” in action, and we are so proud of him!
Originally published Winter 2008