Mercy Day holds a special meaning for Emily Gonderinger ’09. One of her favorite memories is her senior year at Mercy was when she and her classmate, Katie Aiello ’09, were directors of their senior play. Later, while Emily was attending Rockhurst University for college, she and several other Mercy alumnae would gather together and enjoyed a comfortable cup of tea. Now she celebrates Mercy Day with her two sisters whom also attended Mercy and her parents.
“My classmate Katie Aiello and I were directors of the Mercy Day play and we did a great deal of research to develop the script. We wanted to do something different. Instead of focusing on Mother McAuley, we told the story of how Mercy got to the United States and eventually Omaha,” she said.
For Emily, the decision to attend Mercy in the fall of 2005 was an easy one. Her older sister, Jesse Gonderinger Sullivan ’05, went there and their younger sister, Christine Gonderinger ’12 also followed suit.
“Jesse’s decision to go there dictated where Christine and I went, but I don’t think I would have wanted to go anywhere else. I watched how much she enjoyed all the traditions at Mercy, and I couldn’t wait to partake in those myself,” Emily said.
Emily’s entire family became entwined in the school. Her father and mother became active parents serving as chairs for FIESTA. Her father, Bob, is currently serving on the Board. Even her brothers found a way to participate in Mercy events through theater and attending the dances with their Mercy friends.
Emily’s school years were marked by her participation. She played golf all four years and was on the basketball team for three years. She was also involved in school traditions from PA to Farewell Day to Mercy Day.
After graduation Emily continued her education at Rockhurst University in Kansas City. She also participated in golf in college and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Business Administration. After graduation, she returned to Omaha and in 2014 began working for Gavilon, an agricultural commodities trading company headquartered here in Omaha.
As a Transportation & Logistics Specialist, she works with Gavilon’s river assets and runs logistics for the company’s barges throughout the Mississippi River systems. Gavilon has 13 grain elevators along the rivers where they load barges with grain to send them to New Orleans to be shipped worldwide.
“The agricultural industry is male-dominated. I am one of three women on my desk and the only female on my team in Omaha. Mercy instilled in me a great deal of confidence that has allowed me to succeed in this environment. I might be in the minority at work, but I have earned a great deal of respect from my coworkers. Without Mercy and the all-girls community, I do not believe I would be as successful as I am at Gavilon,” she said.
Emily continues to stay involved with Mercy High School. This past year, Emily joined the Alumnae Council and has enjoyed working on ways to engage Women of Mercy with the school. She also dedicates some time to the Mercy Golf Fest committee and enjoys the yearly event where she plays with her sisters and a close family friend.
“Mercy is a place that gave us all so much for our futures. I feel that it’s the least I can do to give a little time back and support them financially when I can. I want Mercy to continue for future generations,” she said.
View Mercy’s Virtual Spring Art Show on Artsonia featuring the 58 artworks that received recognition in various shows during the 2019-2020 school year. Congratulations to all of these artists!
New Senior Class Officers
Congratulations to the newly elected senior class officers for 2020-2021.
President: Anou Akot
Vice President: Rena Lee
Secretary: McKenzie Moore
Treasurer: Cree Howard
New Student Council Officers
Congratulations to the newly elected student council officers for 2020-2021.
President: Carolyn Klein
Vice President: Sophia Mace
Secretary: Emma Elsasser
Treasurer: Sam Burns
Promotions Chair: Lilee Surdell-Eichten
Mercy students Sophie Harvat and Madeline Riesberg were named Outstanding Seniors at the school’s virtual May Crowning on May 11. The annual award winners are chosen by the senior class, faculty and administration because they “represent the class in an outstanding way.” Honorees are considered by their peers and teachers to be loyal, trustworthy, spirited, compassionate, generous and dedicated while also being involved in school activities.
Sophie has been on Student Council for four years, serving as this year’s president. A member of the National Honor Society (NHS), she also has been a Student Ambassador for three years and a member of Golden Girls (the school’s spirit club) for three years serving as its secretary. As a Mercy athlete, Sophie participated in track and field all four years, basketball for three years and was on the cheer team for three years. Sophie is a member of St. Gerald’s parish. She was on the Nocturne Court her sophomore year. Sophie's service portfolio includes volunteering at Mercy events, helping to lead Junior Monarchs basketball camps and working at parish events. She will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study social work.
Madeline is also this year’s valedictorian. She is a member of Student Council, National Honor Society (NHS) and Pastoral Council. Madeline participates in track and field and served as a captain her sophomore and junior years. She has been on the Core Team for Operation Others for two years. Last fall, she was chosen to portray the older Catherine McAuley in the Mercy Day play. During her sophomore year she was on the Nocturne Court, and she was on the Prom Court her senior year. Madeline is a member of St. Gerald’s Parish. Her older sister, Makayla, graduated in 2013 and her younger sister, Megan, is a current freshman. A recipient of numerous scholarships, Madeline is planning to attend the University of Nebraska Kearney and will double major in chemistry and psychology. She works part-time at a veterinary clinic.
Lia Rose Reckmeyer, a 2019 alumna of Mercy High School, is practicing the compassionate service so emphasized at her alma mater. The Benedictine College freshman has become a virtual volunteer, helping non-profits in Atchison, Kansas, where the college is located, expand their outreach, despite social distancing requirements.
In January and February, Reckmeyer was working with a team of students in a business class to promote the local office of the non-profit, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). They intended to implement their plans in April, but their strategy changed significantly due to the pandemic. Reckmeyer and her classmates persevered and found ways to promote the agency, including an informational section in an online church bulletin.
Reckmeyer also responded to a request for volunteers from the Atchison Boys and Girls Club. The Club, which typically hosts fifty kids every afternoon, five to ten years old, had to transfer their programming to an online format. Preparing all the videos that would be needed was a tall order for their limited staff. Reckmeyer was one of the many students who stepped up to help. Using the college’s newly acquired GivePulse platform, Reckmeyer was able to select from the various video needs to prepare one she felt comfortable with. She chose an “Activity video” and taught the kids how to make a paper boat. This served as the base for a Club-wide “Sail Away Challenge” which encouraged the youth to watch the video and make their own boat.
The digital opportunity was facilitated by the college’s Center for Service-Learning, a department which supports academically relevant community engagement. Reckmeyer, who intends to study Education, was delighted by the opportunity to help the children of Atchison. “I love working with kids and… it is important for them to know how much they still mean to us,” she said.
You can read more about Reckmeyer’s service with CASA by visiting https://www.benedictine.edu/academics/service-learning/newsletter/index and you can view her paper boat video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP72IRAkJQo.
Launched in 2016, the Benedictine College Center for Service-Learning engages students in challenging academic work and promoting the common good through cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations in Atchison, Kansas, and beyond. Students encounter and apply course material as they address local needs and critically reflect upon their experiences.