President's update from Alissa K. DeJonge '95

Jan 19 2021



President's update from Alissa K. DeJonge '95
To Our Mercy Community:
I hope that you are all feeling the blessings of hope, resolution, and reflection that a new year brings.
As Mercy High School’s second semester begins, I want to take a moment to share with you some stories of hope, resolution and reflection. Our academic year began with our COVID-19 Management Committee preparing the building for in-person learning while making virtual accommodations for those who desire them. We implemented numerous procedures and invested heavily in technology throughout our building to cultivate a sound space for our students to learn. The committed faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent academic experience for our in-person and remote learners. College Planning Night occurred, virtually of course, as did our Open House, while Mornings at Mercy for prospective students and student-led tours occurred on campus. Each school day, our Student Activities Council officers provided upbeat morning announcements which became quite creative while our students learned remotely during the holiday season.
The resiliency of the students is evident by the way they adhere to our COVID-19 management procedures while learning and enjoying time together. The Freshwomen Pin Ceremony was livestreamed to our school community as the Big Sisters handed Little Sisters flowers and class year pins. Our annual Mercy Day tradition took place on September 24 with a beautiful prayer service that was livestreamed into the advisor groups, and then outside for tea and individually wrapped cookies. We hosted outdoor dances for the Junior and Senior classes in early October. Our two-week Walkathon fundraising effort concluded with the Mercy community meeting its goal, and the students enjoyed a day of socially distanced walking, dancing, games and movies. The new block schedules for classes with activity period at the end of each day allows time for students to attend clubs and activities, earn service hours in the development office, or meet with teachers. Every aspect of the school day has been reimagined because of the pandemic, and the students truly seem to appreciate all the efforts being made, even if our traditions look different than in previous years.
As for athletics, the fall sports season start date was delayed and schedules were adjusted to play within regional divisions. Yet this did not deter the 46% of the student body who were involved in fall sports. Our Varsity Soccer team had an exceptional season, having a record of 11-1 and winning the Southern Connecticut Conference Division A Championship title. The accolades received by players are numerous including SCC All Division, New Haven Register All Area Team, and Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) / Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Association (CGSCA) Class L All State. Coach Marcus Harley was named New Haven Register All Area Coach of the Year, Connecticut Orthopaedics Coach of the Year, and the United Soccer Coaches New England Region Girl's High School Coach of the Year.
Our faculty, staff and students continued to reinvent ways to continue our traditions. For instance, our Christmas prayer service was a beautiful virtual experience that was quite meaningful for our community. In addition, our students and their families enjoyed a lovely virtual induction ceremony for the National Honor Society (NHS) which was a celebration of the students’ academic and service achievements. The school-wide goods and services drives during the Christmas season were met with much participation, including:
  • Students 4 Change sponsored a school supply drive for children in the New London area
  • NHS hosted a Thanksgiving Food Drive and donated 500+ pounds of food
  • Math NHS held a toiletry drive to benefit migrant farm workers
  • Italian NHS invited the school to wear pajamas to support Connecticut Children’s Medical Center “because cancer wasn’t cancelled” that collected $634
  • PJs for the Prince of Peace collected almost $700 and over 100 pairs of pajamas to support women in a shelter in Bridgeport run by a Sister of Mercy
  • NHS collected over 500 children’s books for the library at St. John Paul II School in Middletown
  • Helping Hands Helping Paws hosted a Pet Drive to benefit the Meriden Humane Society
  • Save the Elephants raised money to sponsor an elephant sanctuary in Thailand
  • Butterflies of Love collected socks for St. Vincent DePaul and handmade cards were given to those alone or isolated for the holidays
  • Tri-M Music Honor Society produced a holiday music concert for hospice volunteers at Middlesex Health/Hospital
Mercy’s Alumnae Association has also been active, connecting with graduates all over the country and world. The speaker series provides alumnae the ability to connect with professional peers in a relaxing virtual setting. Area alumnae-owned businesses have had a chance to connect with the Mercy community through social media. And we brought back a well-loved tradition (visits with Santa) with a current twist (virtually), with children and grandchildren of alumnae from many states participating.
Our Home & School Association is also providing countless volunteer hours to provide ways for the community to connect and to generate funds that support our current students. They supported the Walkathon and Cash Raffle and are currently focused on hosting a fabulous virtual Yellow Rose Auction from February 1-6. Please watch for your invitation to join us online, because miles no longer keep us apart for special events.
Our community meets challenges head on, and united by the Circle of Mercy, we come together so that we can connect, feel, think and pray. We have the ability to reflect, to listen, and to be thought leaders for our students who are processing their reactions. Whether it’s a thoughtful conversation in the classroom; an event sponsored by our Students 4 Change; or a discussion among our diversity, equity and inclusion advisors; we strive to be an example to others in terms of what it means to spread hope, inspire change, and listen to all voices. We pray that our community can be an example of what it means to have conversations filled with respect, see dignity in every person, value different perspectives, and work together even if we disagree.
Our school is certainly not standing still. We are breaking new ground while holding true to our values. We continue our cherished traditions while finding new joy-filled celebrations. The spirit of the school community continues to harness our collective power for positive change.
We continue to flourish in large part because of all our donors. Thanks to all of those who have already donated to our annual fund, and for those considering to renew your financial commitment, which honors our history and prepares us for the future.
As we advance our strong foundation, we want to communicate with you about our outcomes and welcome your feedback. To that end, please go to our contact update web site to ensure that we have your latest information and how you would like to connect.
We also hope that you will stay connected by listening to our new podcast, Tiger Talk, where we discuss aspects of Mercy High School including student clubs and activities, athletics, faculty, alumnae, and leaders in our community. The podcast is one way that we are communicating our guiding themes during this time of flexibility, resiliency and change including connecting our student accomplishments with alumnae spotlights that engage and build upon our Circle of Mercy. We are proud of what our students become, and how our graduates positively impact society. They are living up to the words of Catherine McAuley, that we “should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.”
As we look to the future, we are excited for the Seniors who are preparing for college, and we are looking forward to meeting the incoming Mercy Class of 2025 in the fall. Our students are the future, and they are making the world a better place.
Thank you to our board of trustees, Sisters of Mercy, alumnae, administration, faculty, staff, students, friends, donors and COVID-19 Management Committee. You are all cherished members of the Circle of Mercy. Even though these past months have forced us to connect in ways that are less traditional, we are still a thriving community with much to share.
All my best,
Alissa K. DeJonge ‘95