What a wonderful last two weeks of school we had! It was a whirlwind of activity as we took time to honor our students for their academic and co-curricular achievements, with a special focus on the graduating Class of 2013. The final week of school was highlighted by a trio of activities for our seniors: Baccalaureate Liturgy, Grad Night and then Commencement. Congratulations to our graduates, and my thanks to all of their families for their partnership with SJND over the last four years as we have worked together to help their children grow, mature and learn. A special congratulations to our Salutatorian, Jenna Vacca (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), who captured the spirit of her class during her remarks at our Baccalaureate Liturgy, and to Valedictorian Eric Baskett (UC Berkeley), who challenged his classmates to soar during his comments at Commencement.
As I reflect on the 2012-13 school year, I am so happy with the many improvements we continue to make to our school. From the addition of a full-time college counselor, a revised schedule that increased the number of Collaboration periods, continued building improvements to Marianist Hall and the successful launch of our Bring Your Own Computer program, this school year marked a continued march towards improvement of our academic program. As we look toward next year, I am looking forward to the launch of our Biomedical Sciences program, the renewal of our theatre arts program with two new classes and a new after-school theatre activity, additional Social Studies Department electives and an amazing Kairos retreat program. Additionally, we will continue to focus on our Student Life program with revisions to our student club programs, as well as continued improvements to our athletic programs, with the addition of a women's lacrosse program in partnership with a local Alameda club team.
This summer will see the completion of work in Marianist Hall as we replace all of the windows in that building. All of the student bathrooms in Marianist Hall and on the Notre Dame campus also will be renovated this summer. My thanks to those of you who contributed to this Capstone Project as we work to complete the renovations and construction that was started nearly 10 years ago with the remodeling of our band room, library and the construction of the Anthony V. Aiello Science Center.
I am pleased to announce that Barbara Manhoff is the new Director of Finance. Barbara began her work with us in the middle of March. For the past month, she has worked with our outgoing director, Alan DeVera, to smoothly transition the office to her new position. My thanks to Mr. DeVera for his dedicated five years of work here at SJND and for his work with Ms. Manhoff.
Ms. Manhoff has a BA in Sociology from UC Santa Barbara and her MBA in Finance and Accounting from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has spent her professional career in the business world, serving as controller at a number of businesses in San Luis Obispo and most recently in Berkeley. In her most recent role, she handled all aspects of finances and accounting, as well as HR and benefits. She looks forward to working in a Catholic school environment, and she brings with her a wide array of experience.
Best wishes for a restful summer. I hope you and your family will have an opportunity to spend some time with each other without the usual hustle and bustle of school. I'll be around for most of the summer, taking some time off in the middle of July, but working here throughout the summer to prepare for the 2013-14 school year. Thanks for your continued partnership and support of SJND!
Scholarship Offers Abound for the Class of 2013
The graduating class of 2013 was offered $3.6 million in college scholarships and awards, a 15 percent increase over last year. Graduates were accepted to their primary choice of science schools, a host of well-known private universities and California's top universities.
Rose Lassalle-Klein is just one of the graduates who received multiple scholarship offers. She was accepted to Seattle University's biology/pre-medical program and won the two highest merit-based scholarships offered by university (including the $18,000 annual Trustees Scholarship), and she was also offered scholarships by Gonzaga, Santa Clara and USF.
A majority of graduates received at least one scholarship offer or award. Six graduates who signed letters of intent to be collegiate athletes also received generous scholarship and award offers.
"We are so delighted by the generous scholarship offers Rose has received and proud of how she has developed intellectually and personally at SJND," her father Bob Lassalle-Klein said. "Most important to us is the kind of person Rose has become."
Rose's sister, Kate '12, also received multiple scholarship offers last year, including: $40,000 from Santa Clara University, where she will be a sophomore in the fall.
Graduation: Class of 2013 Has "A Brilliant Future"
As members of the Class of 2013 were honored at their commencement on June 1, valedictorian Eric Baskett urged them to consider the future.
"We are not only responsible for creating the culture we will be part of, but for seeding its ideals, its beliefs, its values," he told the commencement audience and graduates. "And what better place to prepare us for this responsibility than Saint Joseph Notre Dame."
Eric, who will attend UC Berkeley to study astrophysics on a Regent's and Chancellor's scholarship, urged his fellow graduates to consider a future that includes vastly extended lifespans, anti-matter rockets and matter replicators. He encouraged them to actively take part in the future they will live in.
"The future isn't something that we're just going to inherit; the future is what we are going to create," he said.
"We, the Class of 2013, are blessed not only with the intelligence and ability to be successful; but with the strength, compassion, tolerance and love to be significant," he said. "And I have the greatest of confidence that every one of us in the Class of 2013 will be integral in creating a brilliant future."
Alameda Magazine, Others Honor SJND Graduates
Phoebe Grunt and Eric Baskett, both pictured at right, were profiled in
Alameda Magazine's annual graduation issue, along with other top students from Alameda.
A Div. I athlete who will play volleyball for UC Santa Barbara and who is one of the top students in her class, Phoebe told the magazine that it can be difficult excelling in the classroom and on the court.
"It's hard physically and mentally," she said.
"Luckily, I love it enough to be willing to give up other things. That makes it a little less hard because I love what I am doing."
Her goal is to be a chemical engineer and eventually work in either alternative energy or the pharmaceutical industry. Phoebe chose U.C. Santa Barbara because she can play volleyball and major in engineering. Eric will attend Cal to study astrophysics. Read the article
Two members of the Class of 2013 received another kind of recognition locally, when they were awarded scholarships from the Rotary Club of Alameda. Jenna Vacca, who will attend Cal Poly, and Danielle Pomeroy, who was accepted into the architecture program at the University of Oregon, were awarded the scholarships at a luncheon in May.
And Sophia Kaunda, upper right, and Aubrey Williams, right, were recognized by the Oakland chapter of The Links, a national women's service organization.
"Once again," said Cathy Lassiter of The Links, "we have chosen two outstanding African-American students from Saint Joseph Notre Dame to receive our scholarship awards."
SJND Students Assist at New Bishop's Ordination
Several SJND students volunteered at the Mass of ordination and installation last month of Oakland's new bishop, the Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
Gov. Brown with Giulia Marinos '14 and Amelia Khoo '14
Giulia Marinos '13, Austine De Los Santos '13 and Amelia Khoo '13 greeted guests who attended the ceremony, including California Gov. Jerry Brown.
"It was a great experience for the students to see this rare event," said campus minister Jimmy Macalinao, who attended the mass with the students. Principal Simon Chiu also attended the ceremony.
Young Alums Earning Collegiate Successes
Taylor Ashford '10 is graduating a year early from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in political science with a global politics emphasis.
"She cred its her high school Advanced Placement courses with playing a role in her being able to graduate early," her mother Kelsey Ashford said, "along with the disciplined study habits she gained at Saint Joe's that enabled her to handle heavy class loads."
Taylor graduates from Cal Poly on June 14. She was a CLT member for four years, student body vice president and the President's Leadership Award recipient. She will be seeking career opportunities with international corporations.
In other news from Cal Poly, Joseph Vacca '09 graduates this month with a degree in biochemistry. He has been accepted into the graduate program there and will study stem cell research in the biomedical and engineering school.
Important Information for Continuing Students and Families
In an effort to better serve our families and students, SJND has placed important information and forms on SJND.org and will not be mailing a packet home to families over the summer months.
Families will find the information they need online to prepare during the summer months to return to school in August. The Welcome Back Page takes the place of past years' summer mailings. For incoming freshman students and families, visit the Class of 2017 Welcome Page for the latest information.
Simply click on the forms that are due by August 2, at right, print them and fill them out before sending them back to SJND, 1011 Chestnut St., Alameda, CA 94501 or fax them to 510-523-2181. Students may not attend any classes without having submitted all of the required forms.Questions about submitting forms should be directed to the school Registrar Dessiree Lozano.
Holocaust Survivor Shares Story with Honors History Students
Rita Kuhn was 5 when Hitler began his "battle against the Jews" in 1933. Today, at 85, she can still remember the terror she and her family experienced in Berlin during the Holocaust.
"By 1938, it was a time when my childhood came to an end," she recalled during a seminar with the Honors World History class at SJND. "I was thrown into an adult world of terror."
Kuhn, of Berkeley, displayed the yellow star that she was given when she was 12 to identify her as a Jew in Nazi Germany. She wore it for five years until she was liberated by the Russians from the labor camp she had been sent to. Kuhn's book, "Broken Glass, Broken Lives," is a testimonial about her struggle for survival during that time.
During a class discussion, Jackson Witherspoon '15 asked Kuhn how the Nazi atrocities were able to escalate. He asked why no one tried to stop them.
"It encouraged the Nazis to keep on doing it," she said, "because no one was speaking out."
College Road Trip This Summer!
SJND is offering a new program this summer called College Road Trip, and students will travel with SJND faculty to various colleges including Santa Clara University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UCLA, Chapman, and Loyola Marymount.
Feel like staying closer to home? Consider signing up for SJND's SAT Prep course, being offered this summer on campus July 15 through Aug. 2. Or join Jumpstart Your College Search, a program that helps rising juniors and seniors develop strategies for their college search. It's being led by professional college counselor Jennifer Levy-Wendt.
There are still spaces available for these opportunities to explore college options. For more information, contact Summer Discovery director Seth Feldman.
Student Art Exhibit Expands on SJND Campus
Art created by 10 SJND artists was selected for U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee's annual district art competition, and the winning art will be on display in the main administration building at school, along with an ongoing-and expanding-exhibit of student art throughout campus.
Austine De Los Santos, Taylor Griffith, Natalia Layson, Amanda Mattoon, Danielle Pomeroy, Michelle Seiwald, Courtney Shojinaga, Amy Wang and Alessandra Zambrano were recognized for their work. Special honors were awarded to prize-winning artists Julian DeGuzman, for winning second place overall, and Kristine Nguyen, for winning best work in the painting category.
School Day to Start Earlier, End Earlier in 2013-14
In the school's ongoing effort to maximize the amount of instructional time for students, there are two changes to the 2013-2014 daily bell schedule.
First, school will begin at 8 a.m. each day. Second, the reading program that had been part of homeroom will now be part of each student's English class, as part of the English Department's new and more structured Outside Reading Book program. More details about the new program will be presented in the fall.
The result of these two changes is that the school day will end at 2:40 p.m. on Blue days and at 2:30 p.m. on Orange days. The earlier dismissal time will significantly decrease the amount of time students will miss due to early sports dismissals, something 70 percent of students experience. These changes will also increase the time that students have direct contact with their teachers.
Parents Association News
Happy Summer! We made it! Yes, as a parent like you, I know it's a family affair getting through finals and all the extra SJND fun May brings. I am so proud of the Parents Association and all the wonderful volunteers who helped make this last school year so special for students, staff and parents alike.
I'd like to acknowledge our May activities, starting with our Uniform Exchange; thank you, Veronica Gaines. Feel free to still drop off your students' "no longer needed" SJND attire in the next few weeks as well. We plan to do another mini-exchange the first week of school in August.
We presented a beautiful reception led by Annette Fuller for the Seniors and their families at Senior Recognition Night. And thanks to senior parent Maureen Deierling for treating the staff to a surprise ice cream treat on the last day of school. The Parents Association also gave out $3,000 in scholarships to very deserving students of all grades. I thank Terri Quinones and her committee for their hard work.
Finally, I'd like to acknowledge my fellow officers who were tried and true all year long: Vice President Kim Murphy, Secretary Ankie Schuitema and senior parent Karen Andrade.
But we aren't stopping. I hope you've had a chance to try out the new online book exchange via Craigslist. Buy and sell your student's SJND school books via our dedicated site. It's up and running. Thank you Richard Sartini, Sabrina Knuckles and committee for kicking off this much needed money-saver for our parents. Directions and an updated booklist (please note English books changed since list I sent via email; please double check) can be found on SJND.org. Please only list books for sale that are on the 2013-14 booklist (check ISBN's).