CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week.
Our theme for the week is Mercy Education is Universal, so we are really focusing on Mercy's global connection. Each day is focused on a particular country where a Mercy school is located, and a few facts will be read about that country and/or that particular Mercy school over the morning announcements. In addition, throughout the week, we will be posting photos of a cardboard cutout of Catherine McAuley placed around Omaha, and it will be a competition for the girls to find out where the picture was taken. ("Where in Omaha is Catherine McAuley?" instead of "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?")
Monday's country is Ireland. Students get a free dress down day in orange, white, and green: the colors of Ireland's flag. At the kickoff assembly - we play a trivia game. Then, we dance an Irish jig to the "Just Dance" Irish Meadow Dance together - student body and staff! We will hide pots of gold around the school and whoever finds them, gets to keep the candy.
Tuesday's country is Honduras. The free dress down day colors are blue and white. Students can visit the Media Center to color flags from the different countries where Mercy schools are located. Flags will be displayed, and each flag colored will earn the student their name in a drawing for a prize.
Wednesday will celebrate Jamaica. Students dress down in black, green, and yellow for free. We will play music during each passing period.
Thursday's country is Australia. Students dress down in red, white, and blue, but must bring in a donation to the Open Door Mission to participate in the dress down day. Socks, hats, gloves, underwear, etc. will be collected and donated.
Friday's focus will be on our favorite Mercy school right at 48th and Woolworth! Students dress in blue and gold (or other Mercy spirit wear) for free. Classes 1-8 will be held in the morning. Staff serve the students pancakes for lunch after 8th period. Then, students will participate in a special activity that will test their knowledge and international prowess.
Great times are sure to be had to celebrate our Catholic Mercy Schools around the world.
NATIONAL HONORS SOCIETY BLOOD DRIVE
NHS is hosting a blood drive on Saturday 1/28 with Holy Cross.
The blood banks around Omaha are still very low and could really use our help. Sign up today and save a life!
When: Saturday, 1/28 from 7 am - 12:30 pm
Where: Holy Cross School Cafeteria
How: Sign up at redcrossblood.org by searching MercyHolyCross
Dr. Kim Oliver Named New Assistant Principal
With great excitement, Dr. Kim Oliver has been named the Assistant Principal. She'll begin her post this summer. She is a member of the Class of 1998! She earned her doctorate in Education-Leadership and Transformation from Concordia University Portland. She is departing the beloved community at All Saints Catholic School. Congratulations and welcome back, Dr. Oliver!
ABRIENDO PUERTAS DONATES TO REFUGEE EMPOWERMENT CENTER
Abriendo Puertas donated nearly 75 gifts to the Refugee Empowerment Center. They raised money, bought, wrapped, and delivered the toys for refugees in the Omaha area. Check out the video to learn more.
ALL-STATE SCHOLAR ATHLETES
Congratulations to the following student-athletes for being named to the The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) Fall 2022-2023 Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association (NCPA) Academic All-State Awards.
Molly Pensick (Golf)
Julia Batenhorst (Softball)
Clara Behounek (Softball)
Lucy Euteneuer (Volleyball)
Abby Mills (Volleyball)
Mary Kate Nussrallah (Cross Country)
Sophia Rau (Cross Country)
NSAA Awards Program recognizes students who meet the criteria for nomination by their school in the season of their activity.
FALL SPORTS RECAP
Volleyball finished the season with 18 wins. That's the most since 2007. Great start for new head coach Brittany Spekhals. Emily Lee and Abby Mills earned 1st team All-Conference and Lydia Boyce and Lucy Euteneuer were named to the Honorable Mention team.
Mercy softball tied the mark for most wins for a season with 17 wins and a trip to the District finals. That's the most wins for the program since 2001. First year head coach, Maren Angus has to be very pleased with her first campaign. Victoria Placzek and Adrienne Pruss were named to the All-State Honorable Mention Team.
The golf team had two state qualifiers, Addy Powers and Molly Pensick.
Finally, every member of the cross country team set a personal record during the district meet.
LIZETTE CABRERA WINS ARTSONIA'S ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Congratulations to freshman artist, Lizette Cabrera! Artsonia's online voting ended on Saturday and Lizette's artwork came in 1st in the 7 - 9 grade division with 691 votes! She had close to 200 more votes than the 2nd place finisher and edged out a 7th grader from Holy Cross! She will be getting a plaque from Artsonia and a gift certificate from Dick Blick
NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY INDUCTS NEW CLASS
The McAuley Chapter of the National Honor Society inducted its latest class on Tuesday, November 1st. The latest members are:
Ahok Apayo Landry Lehan
Julia Batenhorst Kaitlyn List
Clara Baumker Sydney Malesker
Clara Behounek Malanna Muse
Aislinn Bilgere Mia Norton
Alyssa Daniels Hannah Peatrowsky
Kaylee Epp Rylee Rempe
Karol Franco-Barrios Hanna Riha
Isabella Hajek-Jones Amaya Sims
Savannah Hemsley Grace Swoboda
Maren Hollinger Delani Wiedel
They join the ranks of current members:
Kailey Anson, Gabrielle Brock, Hailee Davis, Sarah Day, Therese Drake, Isabella Earl, Lucy Euteneuer, Valeria Figueroa Garcia, Charlotte Hearn, Danielle Hoer, Reece Keenan, Riya Ketelsen, Abigail Mills, Mary Kate Nussrallah, Sophia Rau, Megan Riesberg, Eleanore Slavik, Grace Weber, Claire Wichita
The ceremony included short remarks by four current members of the chapter on each of the four pillars of the National Honors Society: Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character. The key note address was presented by alumna Erin Whiteside '07 on how her life has been impacted by those same four pillars since graduating from Mercy.
Congratulations to all the members of the National Honor Society of Mercy High School, especially our newest inductees, for your tremendous hard work and dedication to scholarship and character.
FRESHMEN UNITY DAY
On Friday, October 28th, the Class of 2026 participated in Mercy’s annual Freshmen Unity Day. The goal behind the day is to assist the acclamation of the freshmen class and build community among them. Throughout the day, the students participated in small and large group activities to promote unity. They learned about each others’ strengths and completed challenges working with students who share similar personalities and were grouped with individuals who had different personalities from their own. One activity even required them to create a “human machine” – where everyone in the group had to have an active part in the machine.
At the end of the day students exchanged bracelets that they created and the final challenge activity was to successfully complete a “human chair sit” with all of the attendees. Check out some of the photos.
Valentina Arriola Tirado Wins inSpire Scholarship
On Wednesday, October 26th, Valentina Arriola Tirado was awarded the Inspire Scholarship. It was a part of a larger ceremony put on by inSpire Celebrating Women's Leadership sponsored by Union Bank & Trust. This honor recognizes “An Omaha metro-area female high school or college student who has contributed to her community, excels in the classroom, and has great career aspirations.”
At that same lunch, Class of ‘66 Sr. Maryann Stevens, RSM received the Woman of the Year Award for her tireless dedication to the College of St. Mary’s. Read more at Omaha.com. We're so proud of each of our women of Mercy. Thank you for all that you do!
WILLEY DWYER '03 NEW VP FOR ADVANCEMENT
Anna Willey Dwyer has been named Mercy High School new Vice President of Advancement. She will begin her new role on Monday, November 7, 2022.
Willey Dwyer is an alumna of Mercy High School’s class of 2003. She is very excited about returning to Mercy. “Mercy has taught me so much. At the forefront has been service and giving back. It’s been my hope that I would have the opportunity to return and continue this school’s important work of educating young women.” She’s most excited about promoting its sense of community and hospitality. “To me, Mercy’s hallmark has been its sense of welcoming. Once a Mercy girl, always a Mercy girl. I want to make sure that this mission continues for several more generations.”
Willey Dwyer comes to Mercy with a wealth of experience helping to lead the development efforts for the Child Saving Institute. She’s been with that organization since 2016, exceeding annual fundraising objectives five years in a row. President of Mercy High School, Sister Delores Hannon, RSM believes that Willey Dwyer will be most successful at connecting with the various community members that support Mercy High. “She is a dynamo at making people feel welcome. Her joy is infectious and by the time the conversation ends you feel like you have known Anna for several years, regardless of having just met. She’s a welcomed addition to the Advancement Office at Mercy.”
Willey Dwyer is married to her husband Scott Dwyer and has two children: Rex, who is three, and Stella, who is one.
Valeria Figueroa Garcia Wins Scholarship
VALERIA FIGUEROA GARCIA WINS SCHOLARSHIP!
Valeria was one of 10 Latino Nebraska Students to win the Jesusita and Santos Courage and Fortitude Scholarship. She earned this by presenting an essay highlighting her leadership skills and how they will apply to her future plans after high school. She wants to become an elementary school teacher. She was awarded $1,000 to put towards any college of her choosing. Well done, Valeria!
Riya Ketelsen named National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist
This fall Riya Ketelsen was honored with the distinction of National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist. In the video below you'll see the surprise and pride from Riya, her parents, and the Mercy school community. We couldn't be prouder of the dedication and accomplishment of Riya. This make 3 National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists in the past two years.
Congratulations to Ahok and Mary Kate!
First, congratulations to our own Ahok Apayo, who was recognized in the National African American Recognition Program. She is one of 62,000 students from across the country to earn academic honors from the College Board’sNational Recognition Programs! Ahok earned this recognition by excelling on her PSAT and AP Exams and in her classes. These National Recognition Programs grant underrepresented students with academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications and connects students with universities across the country, helping them stand out during the admissions process. Colleges and scholarship programs use these honors to identify students from underrepresented groups through College Board’s Student Search Service.
Congratulations, also, to Mary Kate Nussrallah, who was named a Commended Student based on her outstanding performance on the PSAT test last year. She is one of the top 50,000 students nationwide and one of only 60 Nebraska students from 36 high schools to achieve this honor.
Congratulations, Ahok and Mary Kate! We are so very proud of both of you!
Sr. Dee Leaving at the End of the School Year
On Wednesday, September 7th, Sr. Delores Hannon announced her resignation as president of Mercy High School to the Board of Directors effective June 30th, 2023. She has served as president since 2009, having served for 14 years.
Sr. Dee, as she is affectionately known to students, faculty and parents, has overseen many changes at the school. The school facilities have experienced improvements with The Hannon Center for Academic Success, heating and cooling systems, new lockers, bathrooms, a dramatic facelift to the front offices and entryway, to name a few. By the time Sr. steps down, most of the school will have gone through some sort of renovation. Mercy High School has also experienced growth in their academic reputation. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the expectation that our students will be readily prepared for college” Sr. Delores explains. “We’ve expanded our counseling and SAT/ACT preparation, while faculty and staff have increased the expectations of what our students are capable of accomplishing. I have a very strong faith that the Mercy spirit continues to thrive through our students as they serve in their respective communities.”
Sr. Delores has been an educator for more than 40 years. She grew up in North English, Iowa on a mixed livestock farm, the only child of William and Mary Hannon. She joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1969 and quickly was tapped for leadership in schools. She became a principal at St. Matthew’s Grade School in Kalispell, Montana, in 1978 followed by a short stint at Our Lady of Grace School in Edina, Minnesota, from 1981-1983. From 1983-1995 Sr. Dee was the principal at several grade schools in Iowa. She moved on to serve as the Vice President of the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the President of St. Edmond Catholic School in Fort Dodge, Iowa before ultimately coming to Mercy High School in 2009.
The Board of Directors will form a search committee to begin the search process in the near
Mercy Welcomes Two New Faculty
Jim Mayberger is our new business and technology teacher. He comes to us from OPS where he was a curriculum specialist.
He managed the Business Marketing and Information Technology, Family and Consumer Science, Skilled and Technical Science, and Robotics departments.
“I am excited to teach in a faith-based school. I really enjoy being in the classroom and I look forward to being part of the Mercy community.”
Jenna Saraka joins our math department. She comes to us from Omaha Central, where she taught for five years.
“I am most excited about joining a staff and community that offers strong educational opportunities and many extracurricular activities for students that are centered around faith.
I am also excited to work with students who are eager to learn in and out of the classroom!”
Two New Hires for the Advancement Team
Sammie Emsick Becker ’05 has accepted the Director of Events position at Mercy High School and began her new role on June 13, 2022.
Since graduating from Mercy, Sammie earned a bachelor in elementary education, a certificate in Catholic School leadership, and most recently, a Master of Science in educational leadership. Outside classroom teaching, she has served as the athletic director for St. James for the past three years where, in conjunction with supervising all things athletics, annually planned the “Spring Fling” fundraiser where dollars raised went straight to the athletic program. Her most recent “Spring Fling” event set a record for money raised for St. James. She further has event planning experience by way of her time at Dundee Bank, where she was the community involvement coordinator and worked closely with various Omaha businesses to promote and grow relationships with key stakeholders of the bank via special events.
She’s married to Tyler Becker and has two boys Ty (12) and Drew (10).
Welcome back to Mercy Sammie!
Brian Altenhofen began his new position as Director of Marketing and Communications on July 5th.
He comes to Mercy with a wealth of knowledge having earned a doctorate degree in communication and technology studies from Texas A&M University and teaching at Truman State University for the past five years. He also served as the Director of the Truman Leadership Scholars, mentoring and programming leadership experiences for Truman Scholars. Prior to his academic career he spent five years as a Jesuit Scholastic.
He is married to Michaela Cullan Altenhofen who will return to Mary Our Queen Catholic School teaching 3rd grade. They have four children Dylan (16), Lily (9), Dominic (7), and Clara (3).
very September the Mercy community worldwide celebrates Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy on Mercy Day. That tradition has been celebrated at Mercy High School for more than 60 years. In honor of the Mercy graduates who have portrayed Catherine through the years, we asked past recipients to reflect on the honor they received.
Here are some of their reflections:
Mary Jo Pitzl ’75 shared her thoughts.
“Being selected Mother McAuley was, of course, a great honor from my classmates. I am hopeful that I have exemplified Catherine McAuley's spirit of giving in my life (perhaps to a fault: I keep a sign at my desk that says, "Stop me before I volunteer again"!). And I have striven to be kind to people, even when my profession as a journalist calls for me to ask the tough questions and take the impertinent stand.
You can be a "nice person" and still do the tough work -- why, often, it's more effective that way.”
Sheila Greave ’83, from Omaha, Nebraska shared the following reflection.
“I was very surprised when my classmates "kidnapped" me to tell me about it. The vote took place while I was at debate camp, so everyone knew but me! It meant the world to me. It meant that in my years at Mercy I not only grew, I blossomed into the woman of Mercy I was striving to be. What a blessing it was to have a school that fostered that in me.”
Tammie Nussrallah '86 shared her thoughts on being Catherine McAuley. "Being named Catherine McAuley was humbling to me. Mercy is a precious gift to all who come into contact with its traditions, as well as its students, faculty, staff and families. Continue forward Class of 2019. Show the world the Spirit of Mercy in all that you do!"
Jackie Lee ’02 portrayed Catherine during the 2001-02 academic year and still lives in Omaha.
“Being named Mother McAuley meant I was able to honor a woman who embodied much of what I wanted to become in the world. Mother McAuley was an inspiration to me because she was able to accomplish so much, which was especially remarkable when you considered that a majority of women during her era were not afforded the opportunity to be a leader. As a high schooler I felt that if she could do it, why not me? Her life demonstrated that we can each cause positive changes in the world, and it is our duty to strive towards this in ways both big and minuscule. She trusted in her community and inspires me to do the same.”
Coley Mixan ’08, was Catherine during the 2007-2008 academic year. She now lives in Seattle, Washington. She said:
“Being named Catherine McAuley offered me an opportunity to frame the focus of my life's work from the beginning of my young adulthood. I had to ask myself (and as I continually ask myself now), how does the legacy of Catherine McAuley's work (lovingly giving alms and attention to the most vulnerable in our society) show up in the way I treat others in my day to day interactions? Catherine McAuley's spirit remains alive and well in 2018 when we work to dismantle the varying systematic oppressions that give advantageous power to white/wealthy people. Being named Catherine McAuley meant that I needed to strive to become an active listener in my life's work: to listen the lives and issues of cis-and-trans black women and women of color–and then acting through nonviolent means to correct the injustices of our culture. It’s a framework of love that I am humbly honored to challenge myself to everyday. “
Monica Keenan ’12 was a Mother McAuley honoree from the Class of 2012. She said:
“Behind every strong woman is a strong woman, is a strong woman, is a strong woman.” These words hung upon my wall as I completed my second year of service as a Jesuit Volunteer in the Northwest and they have stuck with me here in graduate school as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University. I was reminded daily of the strength, beauty, and power that comes with being a woman. Catherine knew this and dedicated her life to building up strong women in order to change the world- and change it she did. Countless lives have been affected by Catherine’s work and the work of so many strong women of Mercy that have come after her. Being selected to be Mother McAuley is an honor and a privilege, but each of us have the responsibility to be more like Catherine every day. Our world needs people of Mercy; people who see the dignity of others; who stand against racism, sexism, income inequality and other forms of hatred, bias, and discrimination. Stand against these things, and I promise you won’t stand alone. My dear Mercy sisters: “This is the time for which you were created” (Esther 4:14). You are strong women. I stand in awe of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you have yet to do and become. Enjoy your cup of tea today, but maybe love your neighbors a little extra too. I like to think Catherine would approve this adaptation to her message.
Sit at a new lunch table, give that compliment you thought would be too random to say, talk to people who have different interests, and get to know each other a little more. You won’t regret that, and you may just begin to see more similarities than you imagined. Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself too. In case no one has told you recently: you are enough, just as you are. You are loved and lovable and you are all things good. Yes you, right there. Bonus challenge- try saying that to your neighbors. Look them in eye: “Christine, you are enough, just as you are. You are loved, and you are lovable. Christine, you are all things good.” (Heyo- shout out to Ms. Gonderinger). Use your life in a good way to build up others like Catherine did. You are the newest wave in this legacy that Catherine started, and I am so honored that I get to stand beside and live in a world with people like you. Happy Mercy Day fam.
Jamie Jacobsen’14 currently resides in Sioux City, Iowa and said:
“My time at Mercy High School sowed the seed of service in my heart. Catherine McAuley inspired me to become a social worker. Being named Catherine McAuley was one of my proudest moments. To me, that meant that those around me recognized my commitment to pursing Catherine's mission in my life.”
Abi Jones ’18 who was one of the students who portrayed Catherine last year said:
“Being chosen to represent Mother Catherine McAuley was the biggest honor I have ever received. It was really an amazing experience to memorize the script of Mother Catherine's life and to perform in front of an audience and to be chosen to represent the founder of our school. But the entire experience was not so much about the tradition itself or the play put on by my class. It wasn't even about reaching the important Mercy milestone of putting on successful a Mercy Day play or singing our class song and reciting our class prayer. Those were some beautiful moments shared with my classmates that I will never forget. But for me, the honor I felt was more centrally focused on gratitude. I had the beautiful opportunity to celebrate the gratitude of all women of mercy. If it were not for Mother Catherine listening to the Lord's call to her heart, we would not have been celebrating Mercy Day at all. I am so honored that my classmates elected me to represent Mother Catherine. Her life is such a beautiful example of listening to the Lord and living in his love. Because of Mother Catherine's yes, we get to come together every year and celebrate the foundation of our beautiful Mercy community in that little house on Baggot Street.
I am so beyond grateful for Mother Catherine's beautiful mission to spread God's love through immediate help for the poor women and children of Dublin. It is an indescribable experience to be chosen among my classmates because they see qualities of Mother Catherine in me. I was chosen to represent advocacy. Mother Catherine showed no submission to the face of fear. She said yes to becoming a sister, though she didn't want to. She did not let anything stop her from spreading God's love and advocating to help God's people. To know that my classmates see that quality in me is insanely sweet and amazing and it brings tears to my eyes. I see many of the qualities of Mother Catherine when I look at them. And I see those qualities when I look at all women of Mercy. The beautiful mission that the Sisters of Mercy follow has affected so many lives. The impact is so clear and so true. Mother Catherine set a beautiful example of living life for the Lord, and Mercy Day is such a precious time to celebrate our gratitude for Mother Catherine's yes to the Lord.”
Molly Bartek-Miller'18 also portrayed Catherine last year.
" I felt proud to be chosen by my classmates. It also gave me joy that I am able to brighten someone's day and to make them laugh. Being named Catherine McAuley meant and still means a lot to me even to this day. Mercy helped me become the women I am today. Not only did the student, teachers, and Sisters help give me courage and strength but I also had Catherine McAuley to look up to."