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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 
     Emily Lee

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 
future.
 

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). 

 

Back

Sr. Jeanne's Journey

April 02, 2020
By Deb Daley

She is Mercy’s tea lady, the school’s Spiritual Companion, the coordinator of the Sisters of Mercy Mentoring Program, an educator, an administrator, an athlete, a pastoral minister and a person who brings a smile to all the girls at Mercy.  Sr. Jeanne O’Rourke, RSM, has worn many hats in her life. This is not surprising for someone who “loves meeting and visiting with people of all ages.”

A native of Iowa, Sr. Jeanne was born in Missouri Valley and attended elementary school there and in Neola.  Her high school years were spent at Mount Loretto, a former Mercy High School in Council Bluffs. She was a forward on the school’s basketball team, playing both her junior and senior years. 

“My favorite sport is basketball.  I have always enjoyed running and competing as a team.  My nickname was ‘half pint’ because I was short but fast,” Sr. Jeanne said. 

One of her favorite pastimes was running even though the school did not have a formal track and field team. 

“I ran road races for 35 years, in 15 states and in hundreds of races. One of my favorite runs was a 10-mile run that included the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times I would come home from races with a medal and the Sisters living with me with would ask if there weren’t any other competitors in my age group. They kept me humble,” she said. 

She also honed her leadership abilities by serving as class president during her junior and senior years, and as a senior, she was elected to a position likened to today’s Student Council President. 

“Throughout my life, I have been motivated to make things happen. Being in a role of service is important to me. My desire and dream were to find a life’s work that allowed me to serve and be with people,” she said. 

Sr. Jeanne graduated from high school in 1954 and entered the Sisters of Mercy at the College of St. Mary.

“I wanted that close relationship with God, and I desired to be involved in serving God and God’s people. At the same time, I also wanted to be married and have a family.  It was not an easy decision. My vow day, August 15, 1957, was a high point of my life. Being with my Sisters in community is the joy of my life.  It is wonderful to share our values, prayers, joys and sorrows, as Catherine McAuley said, ‘all mingled together’ as we make our journey together,” Sr. Jeanne said.

She spent several years in formation, taking theology and basic college courses.  Sr. Jeanne began her teaching ministry in 1959. For 25 years she was an elementary teacher and principal in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. She also finished her bachelor’s degree in Education in 1963 from the College of St. Mary and received a Master of Arts in Education/Reading Specialist from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in 1972. 

“I loved education but during that time I was also finding fulfillment in pastoral ministry.  During summer months, I served as a hospital chaplain at Mercy Hospital, Council Bluffs, which led me to a year and a half of Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kansas City, Mo,” she said. 

 Sr. Jeanne created an outreach ministry parish visitors’ program in Council Bluffs to help patients transition from Mercy hospital to home. 

“This pastoral work was one more opportunity to be engaged and train others to be ministers to the sick and dying.”   she said. 

The Sisters of Mercy have also benefited from her administrative and leadership talents. From 1987 to 1992, she was Vocation Director for the Mercy Membership Team in Omaha and from 2008-2011, when she was the Sisters of Mercy West, Midwest Community’s Vocation Minister/Associate Director. 

Sr. Jeanne first came to Mercy High School in 1992 when she joined the staff as Campus Minister. She also taught part-time and coached cross country. She held that position for 15 years.

“Some of my fondest memories revolve around the service trips I took with the girls. I wanted them to see the wider world outside of Omaha. One of the most impactful trips was one we took to the Women’s Intercultural Center near El Paso, Texas. We worked at the city dump in Juarez, Mexico, where we cleared the grounds for the children to play. Watching their parents forage for tin and plastic in that same dump as a means of livelihood, had a profound effect on the students,” Sr. Jeanne said.  

For a second time, in 2011, she was asked by her Sisters of Mercy Community to be a Vocation Director, but the ‘spirit’ of the girls pulled her back to Mercy High School.

“There is an invitation of joy, a spirit of hospitality, love and community, which is a reciprocated at the school.  The energy flow and lifting spirits make Mercy High School a home away from home!” she said.

Sr. Jeanne’s role is now Spiritual Companion.  Upon her return in 2011, she went to then-principal Carolyn Jaworski and asked if she could have a room where she could share a cookie and tea with the girls. Sr. Jeanne got a tea pot and a few china teacups and Tea Time formally began at Mercy. Now it is a beloved tradition. Her idea came from Catherine McAuley, who on her deathbed told her Sisters “Make sure you have a comfortable cup of tea.” 

“Students sign up for Tea Time. The room is filled with stories, laughter, tears and comfort. It is a safe and relaxing place of serenity where girls can hang out and have a respite from times of stress or just feel safe,” she said.

The program has grown.  People in and out of the Mercy family have gifted her with more than 100 beautiful china teacups and 20 plus teapots. The welcoming room is adorned with hundreds of photos of students enjoying Tea Time.

Sr. Jeanne coordinates the Junior Mentoring Program with the Sisters of Mercy; which is intended to promote awareness of the Sisters of Mercy ministries and provide an opportunity for Sisters and students to share their lives, their stories and wisdom. The Juniors and Sisters meet four times a year. They get to know each other, dialogue about current issues, and have conversations centered on the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy including human trafficking, immigration, care of the earth, racism and more.   

Sr. Jeanne has been a Sister of Mercy for 63 years; but she is very young at heart! Her love of people of all ages inspires her, and she in turn inspires our Mercy Girls.