The following profiles were originally published in the alumni newsletter as listed.
The Rossi Legacy
Joanna and Lou Rossi opened up a new restaurant called Lou’s Legacy in Wrentham, MA. Joanna is a member of the Class of 1996, and Louie graduated with the Class of 2000.
A legacy, tied up in family, friendship and food … that’s what Lou Rossi left to his children Joanna and Louie. The Rossi siblings have opened a new restaurant in Wrentham called Lou’s Legacy The Restaurant. It is named for the their father who passed away suddenly at age 41. Both Rossis are Mercymount alumni: Joanna is a member of the Class of 1996, and Louie graduated with the Class of 2000.The hope and dream of Joanna and Louie for a long time, Legacy officially opened on April 4, 2007. It is open Tuesday – Friday for lunch, Tuesday – Saturday for dinner. It is closed on Sunday and Monday for private functions.
Joanna’s specialty is the “front of the house.” She has created a wine list and will feature different wines periodically, intending to establish her reputation as a wine connoisseur. One Sunday per month, the restaurant will host a series of culinary events. For instance, June’s special event is a five-course Spanish dinner featuring Spanish wines.
Louis is the talent behind the menu, which will change seasonally and feature specials. Louie’s favorite food to prepare is New England style cuisine featuring seasonal ingredients. He uses local vendors and refers to himself as a “townie.” That is why, with his excellent experience that could have led him to any number of impressive establishments, he returned home, where he can service family, friends and neighbors. His favorite food to eat is Italian; Joanna’s favorite is “anything that Louie cooks!” And that is from his sister … he must be good!
Joanna led the way to Mercymount, attending from Grades 1 through 6. She remembers playing basketball and performing as a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. Joanna states, “I loved Mercymount,” and remembers feeling “devastated” when transferring in 7th grade. Memorable teachers include Mrs. Paquette and Mrs. Dailey, who she felt challenged and prepared students well for high school. She graduated from Ursuline Academy and then Boston University with a degree in Hospitality Management. She has worked in every capacity of restaurant service from waitress and bartender to hostess, and now owner. Joanna spent time in San Diego, California working in management for Make It Fish and Black Angus Steakhouse. While she misses California, the chance to work with Louie in this labor of love was too big to ignore.
Louis, or Louie as he is called by all, graduated from Mercymount in 2000. Memories include basketball and the New England Regional Tournament in his 6th grade year. He considers his Mercymount years “the best years of my life,” and still counts a few classmates as his best friends. His favorite teacher was Mrs. Guerrier, who had a passion for cooking herself. He went on to graduate from Franklin High School and attend The New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. He has studied all aspects of food preparation and hospitality, perfecting his skills in internships at Castle Hill Inn & Resort in Newport and Per Se in New York City. He officially graduated on June 2, 2007!
Though Legacy is a new inspiration, the restaurant business is not new for the family. Joanna & Louie cut their teeth in the business, having been reared at their parents’ business, Rossi’s. Joanna helped her mother, Beth, with the front of the house and recalls working the coatroom at age 8. From there she progressed to set-up, dishwasher and hostess. Louie preferred to assist father Louie in the kitchen, standing on a milk crate! He recognized his passion for food early in life at his father’s side.
Beth, their mother, has been extremely supportive. She helps out on the weekends, but is always on call for busy nights! And younger sister, Alyssa is also on hand to help when her busy middle school schedule allows. Alyssa also attended Mercymount through grade 7.
Beth says, “I’m incredibly proud of both Joanna & Louie. They knew as young children that they wanted to open their own restaurant and each pursued their own area of interest so they’d be prepared when the opportunity arose. Growing up in the business they realize the hard work and long hours but they are both extremely focused and passionate about providing a great dining experience. It helps that they really enjoy what they do. This is a great place for them to get started.”
A place to celebrate, to congregate, to enjoy family and friends … that is the legacy that Beth and Lou Rossi passed along to their children. Joanna & Louie have accepted that legacy, and do it proud!
Lou’s Legacy The Restaurant, 840 Franklin St. Wrentham, MA 02093 508-384-7770 LousLegacy@gmail.com
From the Spring 2007 edition of the Mercymount Newsletter.
The Kerrigan Family
This family of four children spent their formative years as students at Mercymount and went on to accomplish great things!
Marion and Paul Kerrigan of Franklin, MA gave their four children a special foundation in life, the gift of both family and faith evidenced in the provision of their Catholic education. Specifically, they enrolled them at Mercymount.Paula is the oldest of the Kerrigan clan, thus the first to attend Mercymount. From 1st through 8th grades, she remembers Sr. Mary Stephen, her 4th grade teacher as her very favorite. Paula recalls her as “formidable, ran a tight ship and took no excuses; I guess I learned the most from her!” Other memorable teachers were Sr. Ann, Sr. Judith, and Sr. Bernarda. She has happy memories of the school plays directed by everyone’s favorite, Dolores Guerrier, social studies fair, trips to Rocky Point, class rings and the annual school fair. The class trip to Washington, DC is a great memory, even though her parents were along as chaperones! Involved in competition cheerleading, she points out that their team was state champions for several years before she graduated in 1975.Continuing on to Franklin High School where she participated in the ski team and Norwich University where she concentrated on the Corps of Cadets, Paula felt well prepared for her future beyond Mercymount. “Values and personal responsibility taught at home were reinforced at school.” After living in Tuscan, AZ and Wichita, KS when husband Jeffrey Signor was in the Air Force, they now reside in Clinton, MA. Son Nick is a junior at Villanova University and daughter Kaitlin is a junior at Holy Name High School. Paula always felt lucky that her parents chose Catholic education for her and her siblings. A sacrifice, she knew that she wanted to give that same gift to her own children. Typical of Catholic schools, volunteering and a tremendous sense of community has been discovered at her children’s schools, continuing now that her son is at a Catholic college. From the “Christmas card from the University to the outdoor Mass … the day we dropped him off” the community of Catholic education has been inspirational. Having experienced that herself at Mercymount all those years ago, Paula will be always grateful for that foundation.Second in the Kerrigan line is Michael. His Mercymount memories include playing street hockey and football, especially winning the Rhode Island football championship that was played at McCoy Stadium in 6th grade. His favorite class was science taught by favorite teacher Sr. Judith, although his fondest memories are of playing all sorts of sports at recess! After graduating in 1977, Michael continued on to Xaverian Brothers High School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He played goalkeeper on the soccer teams at both schools.
Michael is currently working as a Sales Engineer in the electronics / high tech industry for VISTAssociates. He is engaged to be married in 2008 and also lives in Clinton, MA. He believes that his Mercymount education contributed to “building solid study habits and the realization that homework was important.” Michael is particularly glad to see that the school continues to “evolve and develop for the benefit of future generations” of students such as he and his siblings.
Pam was the third Kerrigan to attend Mercymount. Involved in cheerleading and the track team, she also fondly remembers the plays directed by Mrs. Guerrier. “They were big stuff,” she recalls. Sr. Rita Clair and Sr. Perpetua were favorite teachers of Pam’s, firmly believing that they and the rest of the faculty gave her a “good base of values and morals to continue with … throughout life.” Her best memory was of the class trip to Washington, DC, but regrets that she has lost touch with classmates.
After graduating from Mercymount with the Class of 1979, Pam attended Franklin High School, primarily because the skating rink was right next door!! Needless to say, she participated in figure skating, also the ski team, yearbook and the golf. Years in college at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire were spent earning a BS in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Business.
Currently, Pam is a professional golfer on the LPGA tour although she is taking a break to raise her 21-month old daughter. She and her husband, Chip Johnson live in Hingham, MA most of the year where Chip is a golf pro. They spend the winter in Florida, weather more conducive to golfing year-round.
The youngest Kerrigan, Tim, followed his sisters and brother to Mercymount, where in his 8th grade year he was a member of the basketball team that captured the CYO State Championship, after defeating Mt. St. Charles Academy in the Northern region. Tim then represented RI in the New England CYO Championships played at New Hampshire College. Other favorite memories include the Washington, DC trip and going ice skating on Friday afternoons as part of a program that was coordinated by his mother! Sr. Rita Claire in 2nd grade was Tim’s favorite teacher (in fact he honored her as part of the recent Capital Campaign).
After his graduation in 1984, Tim continued at Mt. St. Charles where he played soccer, basketball and golf and then continued on to Southern Methodist University for one year before transferring to Boston College. There he played golf and was very active with the college radio station in broadcasting football, basketball and hockey games before graduating with the B.A. in communications. Tim is now working as an Assistant Golf Pro at Hatherly Country Club with brother-in-law Chip. He has also had the privilege of traveling with sister Pam as her caddy on the LPGA Tour and regularly officiates at high school and ECAC hockey games. Tim DOES keep in touch with Mercymount buddies, specifically Mike and Steve St. Andre and Sean Carney.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Tim spent 6 years serving on the Board of Trustees here at Mercymount. Like his family, he believes that his education here prepared him for everyday life. He says “The foundation is built in early life, and certainly parental influence is always the number one reason for who we are, but MCDS helps build strong foundations. The school has had a very positive effect over the last 55+ years in molding students in such a way that Catherine McAuley and her Sisters of Mercy would be most proud!”
The Kerrigans have deep roots here at Mercymount. Our school community is most proud of these accomplished siblings, proof positive that a strong foundation is key to success in life. That foundation is gained through tandem teachings of parents and teachers and success in life measured by family and faith.
The Brothers Finn
Three brothers share their memories and regards for their Mercymount education. All three credit Mercymount with laying the foundation for their strong study habits and piquing their interest in science and math related subjects.
Mercymount Country Day School to Bishop Feehan High School to Brown University … quite an educational resume for a young man. Carol Ann and Thomas Finn are quite proud of son Kevin for following that path. And of course, they are also very proud of sons Matt and Martin … for following that same path! These dynamic young men, all Mercymount grads, are quite impressive.Kevin, MCDS class of 1999, will graduate from Brown in May, with an engineering degree. Matt, Class of 2000, is currently a Biology major at Brown, and is considering his options for medical school with an eye towards orthopedic surgery. Martin, Class of 2003, is a senior at Bishop Feehan and will be going to Brown next year, also as an engineering student. All three credit Mercymount with laying the foundation for their strong study habits and piqueing their interest in science and math related subjects. Kevin and Matt cite Mrs. (Linda) Dailey’s science class as providing challenge and motivation. All three brothers regard Mrs. (Barbara) Paquette as their favorite teacher.Typical of Mercymount middle schoolers, Martin’s favorite memory is of the Alton Jones trips’ in which he participated for three years. Matt regards the activities of Catholic Schools’ Week as memorable. Kevin has fond memories of pick-up basketball with classmates and coaches after he graduated. He said, “ It was so much fun to come back to school at night and play with the people that made this place special.”Like all family members, they resemble each other but have their own distinctive personalities and interests. All three Finns participated in basketball and mock trial here at MCDS. Other activities included volleyball, yearbook, choir, drama and student council. At Bishop Feehan, their activites included several honor socities and community service organizations such as SADD. Martin favors basketball and baseball while Kevin played tennis. Matt was involved with tennis, soccer and basketball, earning student athlete awards at graduation.
Activities while at Brown University range from every intramural sport possible, tutoring and teaching assistant for Kevin to numerous medically related internships and mentoring activities for Matt. Both young men participated in volunteer relief work for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Apparently sibling rivalry does exist in the Finn household (thank goodness, as things were beginning to look too perfect?!). Matt reports that Martin (remember he’s the youngest) gets to cut his hair any way he wants IF he gets higher scores than his brothers on his standardized tests! Good luck Martin!!
All three feel that their Mercymount education is a significant component of their success to date. The Finns also formed long-lasting friendships while at Mercymount. They all agreed that some of their current best friends are from their elementary school days. Kevin and Matt specifically mentioned Craig Teal, Jake Sproul, Nicole Picard, PJ Kamp and Pat McGuire.
Kevin, Matt and Martin are the sons of Thomas and Carol Ann Finn of Cumberland and members of St. John Vianney parish. Congratulations to them for raising such wonderful young men. And to the Brothers Finn … you’re fine examples of the Mercymount spirit and mission. Best of luck as you become the community leaders for which you seem destined!
From the Winter 2007 Edition of the Mercymount Newsletter.
Allyson Sabbagh is a Bay View Student who credits her Mercymount education with forming the basis of her value system. She is committed to spreading the news that a Mercymount diploma is worth the decision to stay here through Middle School. Click for full story.
The news was not what she expected. Allyson Sabbagh was appalled that, for the first time since 1954, there would be no graduating class in 2007. Crediting her Mercymount education years with laying the foundation for her success, she was disappointed that others would not have that opportunity as an 8th grade class this year.
Allyson is currently a Senior at St. Mary Academy – Bayview, an Honors student taking AP courses and very involved extracurricularly. She is President of the Senior Class, Treasurer of National Honor Society and a member of SADD and Habitat for Humanity. Also an athlete, Allyson has played basketball and been a member of the Varsity Volleyball team since her sophomore year.
Her favorite memories of Mercymount revolve around her class, especially in their 8th grade year. Many of those classmates are still her closest friends although they attend different high schools. Her class was very close – no cliques which she finds at the bigger schools. Her favorite teacher was Dolores Guerrier – “Mrs. G.” She enjoyed being a member of the basketball and volleyball teams here as well as participating in most of the activities.
Allyson credits her Mercymount education with forming the basis of her value system. The values that are promoted here result in a real community especially within the religion classes and provided the “strong basis for my value system; I know right from wrong.”
Allyson made an appointment with Sr. Martha this summer to propose some ideas for encouraging students to continue their Mercymount education through graduation. She is committed to spreading the news that a Mercymount diploma is worth the decision to stay here through Middle School. She plans to return and speak to the students, and already organized some fellow alums who attended the annual Open House where they were available to speak to parents.
Allyson is the daughter of Ken and Ann Sabbagh of North Attleboro, MA. Her sister, Kimberly, is a sophomore at Bayview.
In the midst of her college search, she has applied to some competitive schools, admitting that she loves Boston College and its location. Her goal is to become a Real Estate Lawyer. An all-around “A+” young woman, there is no doubt that she will be a success, and a true credit to her family and Mercymount, on whatever road she chooses to follow!
From the Fall 2006 edition of the Mercymount newsletter.
Victoria & Lillian Almeida
“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters”
“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters”
Irving Berlin certainly could have been describing the Almeida sisters of Cumberland, RI and Mercymount Country Day School. Lillian and Victoria Almeida, growing up on High Street together, have remained close as classmates, colleagues AND sisters.
Both attended Mercymount from grades one through eight, Lillian graduating in 1964 and Victoria in 1965. Starting out in the original school building on the Aldrich estate, they remember participating in activities that raised money for the “new school” the opened in 1960. Lillian and Victoria, members of the school band, remember many recitals, plays and musical performances. Close in age, the girls mirrored each other’s interests and activities.
Lillian’s favorite classes were geography and religion while Victoria favored social studies and religion. Both warmly recall first grade teacher Sr. Mary Alquin, as a “mother” away from home who was gentle and caring, never raising her voice.
The annual May Procession and Crowning of Mary is a fond memory of the sisters Almeida. In fact, both Lillian and Victoria were able to attend the Crowning of Mary again last May after the first Legacy Luncheon. They also recall days of sledding down the Mercymount hills and stopping on the way down to “make little shrines to Our Lady in the trees and shrubs.”
A memory that remains vivid for them was the opportunity to watch the inauguration of John F. Kennedy on televisions that were brought into the classrooms on January 20, 1961. And just as vividly, the sisters recall November 22, 1963 when the school was gathered by the Sisters to pray for President Kennedy and the country after his shooting in Dallas.
After their respective graduations from St. Mary Bayview Academy, Lillian and Victoria pursued their education at Salve Regina University. A Mercymount classmate, Martha Costello McGahan, was Victoria’s roommate in college, and both families still keep in touch. The sisters continued on to Suffolk University Law School. Strong in a faithful foundation, they volunteered in various ministries to assist the disadvantaged during their school years. Blazing the trail, Lillian became the first female President of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, Felix Frankfurter Chapter with Victoria following in her footsteps.
The strong educational foundation – discipline, class participation and good study habits – absorbed at Mercymount served them well in their further education. Also instilled was the desire to do community service, which resonates with them still. Lillian believes that “Because we have been given much and have been blessed in our lives, we have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate.”
And Victoria explains that “We are involved in activities such as Therapeutic Riding and are Dames of the Order of Malta.” The Order of Malta is a 900 year old lay religious organization that provides hands on care to the sick and poor worldwide. Both women also volunteer their time on regional boards for nonprofit organizations.
Victoria is a trial attorney and shareholder at Adler Pollock & Sheehan, PC and serves as Vice Chair of the RI Parole Board and Chair of the Health Services Council. Lillian is a Senior Judge at the RI Traffic Tribunal (and has been a past judge in the Middle School Mock Trial competition where MCDS’ team has participated).
Acquiring a foundation of faith, and academic excellence, Lillian and Victoria have dedicated their lives to service to their professions and community. “Caring and sharing,” the Almeidas certainly are “such devoted sisters!”
Originally published Winter 2011
Best Friends – Jessica Vickery & Katie Morse
OMG! LOL! Through Mercymount, Bishop Feehan, college and “real life,” Jessica and Katie have remained BFFs!
Confident young women pursuing their career dreams, Katie Morse and Jessica Vickery have remained best friends through the many phases of their lives. Currently in different regions of the country, they still maintain a connection founded in their kindergarten classroom.
Mercymount memories include biddyball and sports. Both participated in the newly formed cross country team in 1998, coached by former teacher Mark Smith. They also ran on the track team and Katie excelled in sports. Jessica has great stories of drama with Mrs. Dolores Guerrier including the Wizard of Oz and her lead role in Happily Ever After or Not. While not an actress, Katie participated as stage manager. Alton Jones trips were memorable despite the cold water, including the 8th grade girls “Mouse House.”
Katie spent many hours with third grade teacher Mrs. Dorothy Cunningham, as one of her figure skating students. She fondly recalls the competitions and credits Mrs. Cunningham as a great coach and skating mentor. Her experience led her to coach at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid and today, she coaches learn to skate in Walpole, MA.
Jessica believes that Mrs. Guerrier’s English and language arts classes were instrumental in her writing foundation throughout high school and college. Fifth grade prepared both for the years ahead with personal responsibility required to anticipate the needs of each class as switching classrooms was introduced. Memories of social studies and literature with Mrs. Barbara Paquette were happy including the Great Depression project and reading of A Tale of Two Cities aloud to the class. Jessica also remembers loving science with Mrs. Linda Dailey. And they remember fourth grade teacher Mrs. Christine Corio before she was married!
Katie and Jessica both graduated from Bishop Feehan High School in 2005. Jessica was active in cross country, track, student council, drama, chorus and glee club and peer ministry throughout high school. Katie also ran track and participated in peer ministry, continuing to ice skate with Mrs. Cunningham as well.
After 13 years of school together, they attended different colleges. Katie went to Assumption where she earned a degree in sociology with a criminology concentration and minor in psychology. She then went on to earn her masters degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology. Last year, she passed the Massachusetts State Police test, joining her father and brother on the force. Incidentally, that was her 8th grade job prediction in the yearbook!
Jessica went to University of Connecticut earning a degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology with a minor in Urban and County Studies with a concentration in Social Justice. She has since earned a Masters in Public Health from UMASS Amherst. A highlight of her education included a trip to Veliky Norgrod Russia as part of her research regarding alcohol and substance abuse. Her practicum there was served at an adolescent alcohol abuse clinic where she plans to follow 12 students over three years. Jessica established a needs assessment, evaluation and planning tools for use in the clinic. Her hope was to return in the summers of 2011 and 2012 to continue with training and implementation of these procedures.
Currently, Jessica is working as the Assistant Director of Health Education & Prevention at University of Alabama. (Brother Jay, ’05, is a mechanical engineering student at MacGill University.) Katie is working as and has rescued a puppy named Haven.
Taking great pride in being part of Sr. Martha Mulligan’s first class of K-8 students at the school (reflected in the close knit nature of the entire class of 2001), both young women credit their confidence and ability to establish and defend their opinions to their Mercymount education. The work ethic established here prepared them for the rigors of higher education. They also recognize the unique opportunity that a Catholic education provided them with prayer in class and attendance at school masses.
While Jessica and Katie are not in touch daily any more, they know that the other is always available on the other end of a call, text or email when needed. Their Mercymount connection, strong and true, will always be a comfort and support – preparing them for careers and for life.
Originally published Fall 2011
Fortin Davidson Legacy
It is always precious when you can pass traditions to family. Imagine the delight in passing along the tradition of an educational foundation that has been in your family since 1955!
That is the privilege with which Carol Palludino Fortin is gifted. As a Mercymount graduate, she has been able to see her daughter, Donna Fortin Davidson and grandchildren attend her alma mater. “Who could have predicted the triple pleasure of seeing my grandchildren attend the school that I hold near and dear to my heart,” exclaims Carol.
During her years at Mercymount, Carol was involved in chorus and band, where she especially relished playing the drums. Girls were not usually allowed to play the drums because of their size; she also enjoyed marching in parade. Her favorite class was History and fondly remembers Sr. Mary Elenora. While she has lost touch with most classmates, Carol believes that Mercymount gave her the confidence to make “responsible decisions” and a definite appreciation for her faith.
Carol continued on to Cumberland High School where she participated in the Drama Club, Future Teachers of America, the school newspaper and yearbook. She also attended Dean Junior College. In 1975, she completed her Bachelor of Science at URI as an adult student and earned a Masters of Education from Providence College. Ironically, she came back to Mercymount as a teacher AND a parent. She taught Kindergarten from 1975 to 1984. The morning faculty prayers are a fond memory; she also coached basketball and volleyball.
Parent Council saw her volunteer with husband Marcel once Donna entered the school. Donna entered in Kindergarten nd graduated in 1982. Her favorite subject was Science. In fact, Mrs. Sally Morris, the Science teacher, inspired her to enter the field becoming a veterinarian. Donna was very involved in drama productions and sports. Although volleyball was her favorite, she especially enjoyed practicing with the boys’ basketball team because it “made us really tough to beat!” Donna graduated from Bishop Feehan High School in 1986 and completd her education at URI in 1990 and Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine in 1995. She currently works as a veterinarian.
Mercymount prepared Donna for the rigors of higher education and the religious education instilled values that influence her daily life such as compassion, honor, faithfulness and a respect for all life. She was commited to providing that same quality of education to her own children. Donna and her husband John, live in Woonsocket, RI. Patrick and Morgan are in elementary school here.
Being back at Mercymount as a parent “has been an amazing experience to see how the school is growing and changing. I can’t believe how many memories are in these walls. I went to kindergarten in the basement!”
And Carol attended school in the original building, now the New Dawn Earth Center. After a 30 year career as a teacher, principal and in office administration, she is now retired, enjoying reading, golfing, the beach and her family. And of course, she visits Mercymount every once in a while … to reminisce and witness her legacy in Donna, Patrick and Morgan!
Originally published Fall 2010
From Woonsocket to Annapolis, with a few stops in between …
that is the journey of Neil Hunt, Mercymount Class of 1996. From public school, Neil entered Mercymount in grade 5 and spent the next four years forming a foundation of academic excellence and lifelong relationships that direct his life’s path. He credits his years here with a profound influence on his skills and values.
As a member of a small, tight-knit class of 17, Neil has fond memories of his Mercymount days. He recalls the basketball games and the school dances. His class gifted the school with a disco ball for future dances, purchased with their own money. Everyone participated in the drama productions: The Wizard of Oz, Arsenic and Old Lace and Great Expectations. These were, of course, directed by Mrs. Dolores Guerrier. “Mrs. G.” is a faculty favorite of all who had her as a teacher, with Neil’s class being no exception. Her language arts classes regarding grammar diagramming still resonate with him today!
Neil also remembers other influential Middle School teachers. Mrs. Linda Dailey made science challenging but interesting. Mr. Charles Moreira’s math groups helped reinforce the concepts. And Mrs. Barbara Paquette made literature come to life when the class read A Tale of Two Cities. With a small class and four Middle School teachers, the atmosphere was personal and comforting to these young students. In fact, their yearbook was dedicated to “all the children of the world.” The dedication, written by Neil and friend Ashish Shetty, states “We realize that there are children in this world who are much less fortunate then we are.” It continues, acknowledging their parents for the educational opportunities they received from attending Mercymount, both in and out of the classroom. They also thank their teachers and principal as they “ask God to help us strive towards our goal of becoming productive, caring individuals who will be able to make a difference in the world.”
From Mercymount, Neil went on to Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket where he continued his drama participation. Mercymount friends Noelle Nugent, Brooke Satti and Doug Wiganowske continued their journey at Mt. St. Charles as well. After graduation in 2000, he journeyed to Pittsburgh, PA to attend Carnegie Mellon where he studied information Systems. Graduating in 2004, he took a job in Detroit, MI with Ford Motors, Inc. for three years. He was working as a member of the Michigan team of Indeca, a Cambridge, MA software company when he was laid off in November of 2008. He is currently working with United Systems Technology, Inc. in Annapolis, MD. Neil is a lead integration engineer for software development practices. According to Neil, that means that he “helps other teams implement strong software development practices.”
In 2007, Mercymount was thrilled to receive an announcement of Neil’s wedding to Karin Sharp in Michigan. Buddies from Mercymount days were in attendance including Chris Koutros, Ashish Shetty and George Wagdi, Neil’s best man. Karin and Neil have two dogs, a poodle named Bella and a cocker spaniel named Sonya. The dogs currently bunk with Karin in Michigan as Neil commutes to Annapolis. In this economy, and thankful to have good jobs, both decided that Neil would follow this opportunity and travel back to Detroit about twice monthly, with Karin making visits to Maryland when possible. The time between visits provides ample time for Neil to pursue his running regiman, even training for marathons. He completed his first on in Detroit in 2008, finishing in 3 hours and 58 minutes. He plans to run half- marathons in Baltimore and Washington, DC in the future.
Brothers John, ‘99 and Charles, ‘03 both graduated from Mercymount and Mt. St. Charles. John graduated from University of Deleware and Charlie is currently at Brown University. Neil’s parents, Thomas and Dorothy still reside in Woonsocket.
Visiting in January for the first time since high school, Neil was amazed at the physical changes in the school. He was “thankful to see that the school continues to make wonderful improvements” believing that the continued excellence of Mercymount reflects well on his experiences and enhances the future experience for other students. As projected in the yearbook dedication, he and his classmates have pledged to do their best to make the world a better place for all children. As a dedicated Mercymount alumnus, Neil is certainly living up to his pledge.
Originally published Winter 2010
Marguerite “Peggy” McQuaid graduated from MCDS in 2002.
A curious and dedicated student, Peggy credits her fourth grade teacher, Mr. William Lusignan, with her easy transition to higher grades and remembers his creativity. The fifth grade duo of Mrs. Denise Renaud and Sr. Marilyn Fanning were “irreplaceable” and Mrs. Barbara Paquette made social studies and literature classes “come alive.” Art classes with Mrs. Lisa Masterson inspired Peggy to access her “free-spirit.” The teacher that Peggy credits with the single largest influence is Mrs. Dolores Guerrier. She thoroughly enjoyed the poetry and monthly novels “Mrs. G” assigned.
“Her example of service, her no-nonsense teaching style, and her expectations of excellence all propelled me forward in school,” states Peggy. “And she instilled the writing process in our brains – “say what you’re going to say, say it, say what you said” – which has carried me all the way through to college.”
… nurtures creative abilities, creates a sense of community and promotes social responsiblity. …
In her 10 years at Mercymount, Peggy was involved in a wide range of activities from Teens Living for Christ to sports. A passionate basketball player, she claims to fouling out before halftime in several games but learned hard work, discipline and goal-setting from coaches like Greg Pope, Marty Klara and Christine Cosimano. The 8th grade girls team even won the Regional Championship in 2002. Another favorite activity was Mock Trial; it “encouraged us to think about big concepts like the role of law in society and empowered us with public-speaking skills,” says Peggy. She especially cites Mrs. Paquette with the dedicated leadership that has resulted in the continued success of the program.
With Girl Scout Troop #794, Peggy was inducted into the Mercymount Hall of Fame in September of 200? . The 9 girls, together since first grade, gained statewide recognition for earning their Silver award: they organized a Girl Scout troop at a homeless shelter in Woonsocket, RI implementing activities including crafts, education and cooking. Led by parents Kim Caron & Donna Palmer, each went on to earn her Gold Award as well.
Peggy went on to Bishop Feehan High School and participated in numerous activities: Peer Ministry, Cultural Awareness, Environmental Awareness, winter and spring track, Debate team and French Honor Society. Apparently her father, Sam, can attest to the number of bake sales that Peggy kept stocked to raise money! She graduated with honors in 2006, excited to continue her education at Connecticut College in New London, CT. Ahead in her studies, Peggy decided to take some time off and volunteer with a group called the Olancho Aid Foundation.
… In the spirit of Catherine McAuley we affirm that each child is a unique gift of a loving God, open to God’s presence in others and in all creation.
Peggy co-taught pre-K and kindergarten at Centro Escolar Santa Clara, a preK-6th grade Catholic elementary school in Juticalpa, Honduras, from January to May 2009. (Find out more at http://www.olanchoaid.org.) Peggy and her co-workers were involved with coaching the teachers to make the classrooms more child-centered and teaching the children how to read. She related that “it was a wonderful experience being in Honduras, with a wonderful group of other North American volunteers. Honduras is an unbelievably welcoming country!”
Recounting her experience to the 6th grade Spanish classes at Mercymount at the request of Spanish teacher Marta Dougal, Peggy described the simpler way of life. Homes are smaller, usually one level with walls built around courtyards for privacy. A distinct lack of appliances and conveniences was glaring as she described doing dishes and laundry in the local river or a large sink in the home. Hot running water was rare, but she didn’t mind the warm water for bathing given the beautiful weather. With only two seasons in Central America, Peggy felt lucky to be there for the “non-rainy” season. While students were coming to school in hats and mittens in the cold 65 degree morning, Peggy was wearing short sleeves and reveling in the warm temperatures in January and February.
The students enjoyed her stories. Learning to cook proved interesting since many of the kitchen facilities are built outside under a small roof. She and her housemates would cook Arroz Con Pollo (rice with chicken) and both flour and corn tortillas over a fire in a stone oven. Also, Peggy described two lane dirt roads, crowded with small cars and loaded pick-up trucks sharing space with people walking, riding bikes and even leading cattle! She confessed to almost running into an ox on one of her morning runs!!
Peggy remembers Senora Dougal recounting her homeland of Guatamala during her Spanish classes. She did a report on a pilgrimage site in Guatemala called Esquipulas, a huge cathedral that houses El Cristo Negro (The Black Christ). This is a huge crucifix which thousands of people visit during Holy Week. Peggy took a trip to Guatemala, and got to visit Esquipula, amazed to be actually visiting the subject of her report!
Returning to Connecticut College this fall, Peggy is majoring in Elementary Education and hopes to become a teacher after graduation in May 2010, perhaps returning to Honduras to teach. She will also return to her extracurricular passion, cycling. She is an organizer and member of the cycling team which competes at the collegiate level. Additionally, she has founded a bicycle co-op called Spokespeople.
“I have always had a concern for the environment, and I see bikes as a perfect way to rethink transportation as Earth-friendly. Spokespeople fixes up donated used bikes and rents them out to students for a security deposit of $20, and also teaches people to fix their own bikes,” says Peggy. For more information, check out http://spokespeople.conncoll.edu/ – donations of any bikes/parts welcome! Peggy resides in Cumberland, RI with her parents Samuel and Marguerite McQuaid, and her brother Sam, a MCDS 8th grader in the fall.
At Mercymount, her fellow classmates cited Peggy as having a degree in PS – Personal Style! And they could not imagine her “failing at anything.” Well, her experiences to date are a testament to her personal integrity, character and dedication. Peggy, a true unique gift of our loving God, is an inspiring example of the mercy mission in action!
Originally published Spring Summer 2009
Rita MoranClick for full story.
In the 1940’s, rural northern Cumberland was growing, and The Sisters of Mercy had a strong presence in the area with Mt. St. Rita Convent on the northern edge of town. Prominent local families, determining a need for a Catholic elementary school in the area, proposed such a school be started. With the rapid growth of the suburbs, new options for Catholic education were necessary.
Cousins John Moran and John McLaughlin, partners in the locally founded McLaughlin and Moran, Inc., with in-law Walter Costello, brought the subject to light with yet another cousin, the Bishop of Providence. Rita Moran, wife of John, remembers the subject being raised at an informal gathering of Bishop Russell McVinney, Mother Mary Hilda Miley and the three men. The idea grew from there into Mercymount Country Day School as we know it today!
Rita remembers the purchase of the Aldrich Estate, south of the Mt. St. Rita Convent on Wrentham Road. The white farmhouse was renovated into a classroom building and attached kennels were converted into the cafeteria. The first day of school was on September 13, 1948. Three Sisters of Mercy – Sr. M. Pierre Donnelly, Sr. Rosann Quirk and Sr. M. Noella Departhy – opened the school with 72 students. Eight of those students had the last names of Costello, McLaughlin or Moran (11 more would enroll as the school grew).
Rita Conway grew up in Cumberland, her brother later founding Conway Tours. She married John Moran in 1939 and raised their family of six children on Mendon Road. The property is now the Moran Family Park, a few blocks south of Cumberland High School. John and Mary Jane were enrolled in that first Mercymount class. Ann, Timothy, Paul and Terrance eventually followed. Rita and John attended graduations from 1953 through 1971 as all six children completed their 8th grade years and continued on to LaSalle Academy, St. Mary’s Bayview Academy and Moses Brown School.
The first day of school was exciting for the students, parents and religious involved. Rita remembers being in the cafeteria that first morning with other mothers in preparation for lunchtime. Things were a little hectic as items had to be unwrapped and organized. Lunch was to be served from the Mt. St. Rita Convent and was, in fact, late that first day as someone forgot to tell the food service how many children to serve!
Other memories remain strong, especially regarding fundraising for the school. Rita says that “we sold everything! I am sure that people were sorry to see us at the door.” Candy was sold at school and throughout the neighborhood. Cookies were baked, bagged and sold door to door. The Mother’s Club was organized and held card parties and garden parties, esepcially to raise funds for a new building in the late 1950’s. The school community even sponsored a “House Beautiful” fundraiser and raffled off a house! At least one of the houses is still standing on Diamond Hill Road.
Rita has fond memories of the celebration for the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima. The entire community would pray the rosary and devotions at the statue of the Blessed Mother outside the school (the same statue that stands at the base of the hill). Daughter Ann has memories of the Crowning of Mary in May, especially citing sister Mary Jane as the lucky 8th grade girl who actually got to crown Mary! Other memories include outdoor festivals and the Mercymount band marching in the Armistice parade.
Rita and John later moved to Arnolds Mills where she maintains their residence on Newell Drive. John passed away suddenly in 1997. Rita later married William Byrne and also has homes in Florida and Nantucket. The Moran children have grown, many working in the family business. All but Ann have remained in the area (Ann lives in Virginia) and have blessed Rita with 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She loves to travel and is an accomplished painter.
We, at Mercymount, are so thankful for the foresight and support that the founding families provided. A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday must certainly be dedicated to Rita, her family and all of those early Mercymount supporters whose dedication has laid the foundation of excellence that our school continues to enjoy and promote 60 years later!
Originally published Winter 2009
Jessica Busch Burke, Ashley Badeau, & Amanda Danis
All three are current teachers at Mercymount Country Day School, and all three are former Mercymount students. They share a present as colleagues, and in past days at Mercymount, they shared the hallways on the way to class! Jessica Busch Burke attended Mercymount from kindergarten through 6th grade. She fondly remembers Miss Cuddy as her favorite teacher and, always an athlete, her favorite class was gym, particularly the kickball games! Jessica must also have had some artistic talent because she recalls winning a $500 savings bond for a poster contest, and the subsequent trip to the RI State House to be recognized as the winner.
While losing touch with Mercymount classmates over the years, Jessica has recently reconnected with some of her friends on Facebook. Valuing her Mercymount education, she believes it prepared her well, especially her religion classes. After attending Mt. St. Charles, Jessica graduated from Cumberland High School in 1999. A competitive swimmer, she was a member of the swim teams in high school and college, also coaching locally at Sher Le Mon Swim Club. She earned a degree in elementary education from Bridgewater State University. Proud to be a former student and current teacher, “Mrs. Burke” always knew that teaching was her calling and cannot imagine working anywhere else. She has been teaching second grade here for 7 years.
“I now understand why my parents sent me here and why the Mercymount ‘family’ continues to grow,” says Jessica. Currently out on maternity leave, Jessica and husband Tom have recently expanded the Burke family with the birth of Logan. He joins big sister, Riley, at home in Cumberland, RI.
New kindergarten teacher, Miss Badeau, is a graduate of the Class of 2002. Attending from Prek through 8th grade, Ashley was in Principal Sr. Martha Mulligan’s first class in 1993! Ashley was very involved in activities as a student: basketball, volleyball, track, yearbook and Girl Scouts. She especially recalls basketball games and projects with Girl Scout Troop #794. Her “favorites” also include Science class, Mrs. Paquette (now a colleague!) and the annual middle school trip to the Alton Jones campus.
Ashley and her classmates experienced the tragedy of 9/11 as their 8th grade year began. They ended their year with a new tradition: individual art projects that became their personalized graduation chairs.
Troop #794 was specially recognized by the school in 2002 with induction into the Hall of Fame. Most of the troop had been together since kindergarten, finally earning their Silver award. Their work with homeless teens had earned them recognition at the state level. They certainly embodied the Mercy mission they had learned as Mercymount students!
Ashley attended Worcester Academy where she played lacrosse, field hockey and track. She went on to Assumption College for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Although her career goal in the 2002 yearbook listed veterinarian, she has chosen to “corral” children instead of animals on a daily basis. Crediting her Mercymount education with instilling great work habits, Ashley also believes the foundation of her faith in God has been laid by her early years here. She is completing her first year as a kindergarten teacher and lives in Bellingham, MA.
Now in her second year at Mercymount, Amanda Danis teaches middle school Literature. She attended Mercymount for 5th and 6th grade. Actively involved in chorus, she had great fun with the Lip-Sync Talent Show in 6th grade. Amanda also fondly recalls the chorus trip to Emerald Square Mall to sing Christmas carols. Art class with Mr. Harvey was a favorite – the art classroom was in the basement then! Amanda particularly remembers the lessons on proportions when drawing the human body.
“While I loved all of my teachers, Mrs. Paquette was a particular favorite,” says Amanda. She credits Mercymount with building confidence and study habits, enabling a smooth transition between elementary and middle school.
Amanda graduated from Mt. Saint Charles Academy in 2001, involved in drama and the girls’ varsity hockey team. At Sacred Heart University, she was very involved in Community Connections, a volunteer program in Bridgeport, CT. After earning her teaching certificate, she earned two masters degrees: Educational Studies and Educational Literature, Creative Writing.
Amanda, living in Woonsocket, has aspirations of becoming a published author. With the benefit of technology, she is able to keep in touch with many MCDS classmates. She cherishes the opportunity to be here “reconnecting as a peer with those teachers who have been so intrumental in my education.”
To tie it all together … Jessica and Ashley were both students during Sr. Martha’s first year as principal in 1992-1993: Jessica was in 6th grade and Ashley was in PreK! Amanda and Ashley were both here to experience Reading Week when Sr. Martha threw a television off the roof to encourage family interaction instead of watching tv! (Amanda remembers a great week at home playing board games with her family). For reference, Ashley was in grades K and 1 during Amanda’s two years here.
All three women had the experience as students during Sr. Martha’s early years as principal … and today they are teachers in the classrooms they once called their own as students.
Originally published Spring 2012
Frank LucaClick for full story.
Frank Luca spends much of his time at the gym. As Regional Director of One on One Basketball in Rhode Island, he is pursuing his dream job in sports. Frank has always been involved in sports, from playing to coaching. After many years working in the logistics field at CVS, he has parlayed his background as a coach and volunteer into a “real job.”
A graduate of the MCDS Class of 1975, Frank remembers his two years as a middle schooler as the best of his young life. From North Providence, he rode busses for up to one hour each way. His parents discovered Mercymount when he was in 6th grade and decided that they preferred the Catholic school influence rather than the public school system. Although the transition was not easy, Frank remembers Sr. Judith as a strong influence, assisting in a stern but nice way with academics, discipline and a uniform. He believes that his classmates from rural Cumberland saw him as the typical Italian streetwise city kid.
Frank joined the football, basketball baseball teams. One of his fondest memories was of the 8th grade football season when the team won the championship, beating Sacred Heart 6-0. A blocker, Frank remembers his good friend, quarterback Jackie Saracin, throwing the winning pass. And after that victory, the football team went to the cheerleading competition at Providence College to return support to the cheerleaders who won the New England title. Other memories include the class trip to Washington, DC – the hotel, bus ride and pillow fights! He also was a member of the yearbook staff.
“I have nothing but great memories of Mercymount. It was the best thing for me at the time and I wished that it went through high school. In fact, I wished I had come to the school earlier, ” states Luca.
He enjoyed social studies with Sr. Eleanor, even though she was a tough teacher. Frank has the utmost respect for Sr. Judith for her guidance and remembers Sr. Maria Lynn as a teacher to fear. He was voted Best Dressed, which he attributes to his Italian style! He was honored with the Sr. Joan Bailey Award with classmate John Morton at graduation. The trophy is still one of his most prized possessions.
“Mercymount gave me Christian values … the Sisters provided discipline and a good educational base. You can’t ask for more than that,” says Frank. He felt his preparation was vital to his success at LaSalle Academy. After high school, he attended URI and earned a degree in Business Communications. He participated in intramural sports and held a job thoughout college, keeping in touch with some of his MCDS classmates for a while, especially Richard Kirby and Kathy Salome.
Frank lives in Smithfield, RI with wife Nancy and three teenage children John, Jenna and Matthew. His coaching experience spans 24 years at St. Anthony’s, LaSalle Academy, Roger Williams University, Scituate High School and currently as an assistant coach at Smithfield High School. His family attends St. Philip’s Church in Greenville, RI where Nancy teaches CCD and Frank coaches CYO teams. His boys grammar team recently won the state CAL Championships and was the runner-up in the New England tournament. Frank is also the Vice President of the Smithfield youth Basketball Association.
In early 2007, he returned to Mercymount for the first time in many years to speak to principal Sr. Martha Mulligan about using the school as a camp site. As they toured the school, he was bombarded with memories at every turn: lunchtime in the cafeteria, football at recess, dances in the gym, classmates and teachers as they wandered the hallways. “It was nice going back to where I started, this time with a new business venture,” states Luca.
With One on One Basketball, Frank oversees 35 afterschool programs, in addition to skills classes and summer camps. He is holding two weeks of summer camp at Mercymount. Frank enjoys teaching kids and seeing them progress. He is very happy with this new career, especially since he gets to return to his alma mater as part of this exciting job opportunity. His passion for basketball and coaching is as apparent as his passion for Mercymount!
Originally published Summer 2008