Timothy C. Hancock has been named Director of Finance at Mercy High School effective October 23. In that capacity he is responsible for providing financial management for Mercy’s leadership through planning, organizing, and directing the overall financial and business functions to assure the school’s financial well-being. He also serves as cash manager and investment officer.
Hancock was most recently the Finance Director at St. Gerald’s Church and School. Prior to that he was the Business Manager at St. Edmond’s in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he worked with current Mercy President, Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM. During his tenure there he received the Good Shepherd Award from the Archdiocese of Sioux City, which honors outstanding staff members.
The 1982 graduate of Creighton University holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Business. He and his wife Diane have five children and are members of St. Margaret Mary’s church.
He replaces Tim Rooney who retired. Mercy wishes to thank Tim for his service and wishes him blessings on his future journey.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Tim’s experience and commitment joining our Mercy community, “ said Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM.
Mercy High School’s annual 6th, 7th & 8th Grade Open House is Sunday, November 3 from 1:00-3:30 p.m. Students and their parents receive guided tours and information presentations with administrators.
The schedule includes:
Negotiated Tuition & Financial Aid
1:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m.
Life at Mercy: Academics & Activities
2:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m.
Cheerleaders and Dance Team
1:45 p.m. 2:30 p.m.
With newly renovated science labs and a rigorous curriculum, Mercy focuses on each student's success. Learn the benefits of a right-sized, all-girls high school and meet current Mercy students and faculty.
For more information contact Mrs. Anne McGill ’00, Admissions Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.553.9424.
Mercy High School is hosting a show choir camp. Come to Mercy and learn how to sing and dance in a show choir, meet new friends, have some fun and PUT ON A SHOW!!!
Who: 4th-8th grade girls
When: Saturday, November 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (short performance at 3:30 p.m.)
Where: Mercy High School
Cost: $35 Lunch and snacks are included in the cost. Lunch will be two slices of pizza, drinks and a dessert.
Performance: Camp participants will perform their show, followed by a partial performance of the 2019-20 Treblemaker’s first official performance of their new show!
What to Wear: Wear comfortable clothes that you can move in and tennis shoes.
Registration: Go to https://www.mercyhigh.org/events/ to sign up!
Drop-off directions: Check-in at 8:30 a.m. We will rehearse in the Mercy music room. Please use the Woolworth Street entrance, door #2 (the single door on the north side of the building).
Pick-up directions: Parents can arrive starting at 3:10 p.m in the gym (Pine Street Entrance – south side of the school). Performance for family and friends is at 3:30 p.m.
Questions? Contact Mrs. Mindy Graff, Mercy Music Director at Graffm@mercyhigh.org.
Mercy parents Eric and Nicole Liebig Lakeman ’92 have accepted the invitation of Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM, President, Mercy High School, to be the FIESTA Chairs for 2020. In this capacity, they will be responsible for organizing and running the school's largest fundraiser on February 29, 2020, at the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District. The dinner-auction is managed by hundreds of volunteers and features items to bid on including vacation packages, concert and event tickets, collectibles, gift baskets, gift certificates, and much more.
The Lakemans have been married for 22 years. Their daughter, Macy, is a sophomore, a member of the Dance Team, and a Student Ambassador. Their son, Colin, is a sophomore at Creighton University and is studying Business on a pre-dental track.
Eric is general contractor and owner of L & L Custom Builders, a residential construction and remodeling company. Nicole manages the financial and administrative side of L & L and is also employed at Creighton University in the Department of Mathematics.
Although the family is busy with work and school activities, they enjoy boating and entertaining family and friends.
“As a Mercy alumna, I greatly value the education I received at Mercy and thought being the Chairs of this prestigious event would be a wonderful way to get involved, meet others, and give back so that other young women may receive all that Mercy has to offer,” Nicole said.
Looking for some scrumptious food and to support a great cause? Each fall Mercy High School students sell frozen food to help fund the school’s Negotiated Tuition Program. This program provides tuition assistance to deserving students giving them an opportunity to attend the school. Each year 82% of Mercy families receive more than $1.8 million in tuition assistance.
The kickoff for this important fundraiser is Thursday, September 19. As an added convenience, you can order everything online. Red Wheel frozen food provides a variety of items from appetizers to entrees to desserts.
Orders will be due October 24, with the pickup of items on November 13 at the school.
Nearly $60,000 was raised at Mercy High School’s 28th annual Driving for Excellence Golf Fest on September 9. The event supports the school’s Negotiated Tuition Program, which provides tuition assistance to students based on each family’s unique needs and income. More than 82 percent of families benefit from this program, and $1.8 million in tuition assistance is distributed annually.
With 156 golfers, the tournament featured a four-person scramble with a noon shotgun start. To help offset costs for the event, 40 generous sponsors and patrons provided support. J. Skinner Baking Company sponsors the annual golf outing. Other premiere sponsors are PI Midwest, the Heider Family Foundation, the Sisters of Mercy and TD Ameritrade.
Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM, President of Mercy High School, thanked the group for their participation and reminded them about the importance of raising money for the Negotiated Tuition Program.
“Your investment in Mercy has an impact. Our graduates are confident, compassionate Women of Mercy who will make an impact in our community,” she said.
First place finishers in women’s, mixed, and men’s teams were: [left to right in the pictures below]
Women’s: Jesse Gonderinger Sullivan ’05, Emily Gonderinger ’09, Christine Gonderinger ’12, and Jackie Roseland.
Mixed: Patrick Bresnahan, Kathy Burnham, Bobby Knowles and Annie Messersmith.
Men’s: John Tischer, Chris Tischer, James Tischer, James Tischer and Borck Partlow.
To see photos from this year’s tournament, check out https://flic.kr/s/aHsmGT3hG5.
Jane Langenfeld, Mercy’s Art Teacher, is one of 34 art educators throughout the state to be accepted into the 2019 Nebraska Art Teachers Association Educator Exhibit. This is a juried exhibit on display at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, NE through September 28. Selected artworks showcase a wide array of subject matter and media including photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and batik. Langenfeld’s digital photography work depicts the Grand Canyon and is titled “Layers.”
The Nebraska Art Teachers Association (NATA) was founded in 1923 with a mission to advocate for and advance art education in Nebraska to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding. NATA’s Art Educators exhibition is presented in conjunction with their annual conference.
Mercy High School’s fall play will be Front by Robert Caisley, winner of the 1996 Kennedy Center/Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award. Set in England during the Blitz in World War II, a number of struggling individuals and families come to terms with war and loss. The cast includes 24 girls and three boys from neighboring high schools.
Performances of the play are October 25 and 26 at 7:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on October 27 at Franey Hall. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students, and $5 for Mercy students. Tickets can be purchased online.
"I chose this play because I felt it was important to address the perseverance of women during wartime,” said Mercy theatre director Mr. Joshua von Kampen. “With husbands and sons abroad on the war front, the women of London fought on their own front at home to survive bombing raids while trying to maintain a semblance of normal life. This show is a great opportunity for our students to create a gripping performance of historical drama. Though the subject matter is dark, a play like this can be an excellent tool to shine a light on understanding those who fight to persevere today, inspired by examples from the past.”
Two new faculty and one new staff member have joined Mercy High School for the new academic year: Athletic Director Bethany Kowal ’02, math teacher Kathryn Albertson, and Spanish teacher Madeline Barla.
Bethany Kowal is coming back to Mercy after working at Nathan Hale Magnet Middle School as the Girls Physical Education and Human Growth and Development Teacher for five years. From 2009-2012, Bethany was Assistant Athletic Director and Biology, Math and Physical Education Teacher at Mercy. As Athletic Director she will be responsible for managing nine sports, coaches for those sports, as well as all athletic events. A teacher since 2008, she has also coached swimming, basketball, and softball and holds certificates in athletic training and lifeguard/professional rescue.
Bethany earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Biology from Briar Cliff University. She also has a Master of Arts from the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
Katee Albertson has been a math teacher since 2008. Most recently she taught Algebra 1-4 at Burke High School. She has also taught math on a college level and at an Air Force base in Germany. Katee is an active runner and played soccer in college. She graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Secondary Education. She earned her Master of Arts in Mathematics from Saint Louis University. While there she received an award for Outstanding Teaching Assistant in 2011.
Madeline Barla will have her first teaching assignment at Mercy High School. She most recently student taught at Millard North High School. She studied abroad in Cusco, Peru, during her college years and received her degree in Secondary Spanish Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an active volunteer in Launch Leadership, a group that facilitates leadership development for middle school and high school students.
Sarah K. Paladino has been named Director of Events at Mercy High School effective August 5, 2019. In that role she will be responsible for coordinating all events at the school including fundraisers such as FIESTA and the annual Golf Fest, to alumnae gatherings like the All-School Reunion and Golden Guild Tea, to internal faculty and staff gatherings.
Paladino most recently served as the Director of Operations at Eddie’s Catering. She was with the firm for more than 20 years and was responsible for managing parties and events, training, logistics, sales and promotion and human resources.
She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Paladino is also a member of the National Association for Catering and Events and was a volunteer for Head Start.
Current Director of Events, Katy Butts ’03, is moving to York, Neb.
“We would like to thank Katy for her time and dedication she has displayed during her time at Mercy both in the office and on the soccer fields coaching her squads to victories!” said Nate Driml, Vice President of Advancement.
More than 200 alumnae, family and friends attended this year’s All-School Reunion on June 2. The annual event began with Mass celebrated by Fr. Steve Ryan, Chaplain at Creighton University’s Dental School. He reminded the audience that “prayer is simply a conversation with your beloved, your God.” The Mercy High School Alumnae Choir led participants in song and Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM, President, welcomed the group back to school. More than 35 members of the class of 1969 also received their Golden Guild pins.
After Mass, attendees gathered in the gym with many classes sitting at tables together. Kaylea Dunn ’96, Alumnae Council President presented Ann Bendon Wieberg ’57, the 2019 Distinguished Woman of Mercy Alumna. Ann shared how Mercy connections have impacted her through the years and how the school has been an integral part of her family’s life.
The Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community have appointed Fr. Kevin Schneider, S.J., to Mercy High School’s Board of Trustees. He has been the Director of Adult Spirituality programs at Creighton Preparatory High School since 1998 and serves as the assistant chaplain for many athletic teams.
Fr. Schneider was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and is the second oldest of six boys. He graduated from Creighton University in 1982, the Weston School of Theology in 1993 and was ordained in 1994. He is also a lifelong Green Bay Packers and Creighton Bluejays fan. He often says Mass at Mercy.
Three Sisters of Mercy with ties to Mercy High School are celebrating their jubilees this year.
Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM, has been involved with Mercy efforts for justice since the 1970s. She went to Nicaragua in the 1980s on a “witness for peace” delegation, an experience which changed her focus and resulted in decisions to learn Spanish and become involved in immigration issues. She has participated in several delegations to Central America, and spent nearly 20 years living at the US/MX border (1991-2008) where she organized Border Awareness experiences and helped to found a learning center for immigrant women.
Having traveled to Honduras several times, Sister Kathleen is committed to raising awareness about “root causes” of people fleeing to the United States. She has offered spiritual assistance to detained immigrants in Federal Detention Centers, Family Detention Centers and county jails. “Through ministry, I am learning that everything is connected,” she says. “My view of life and my spirituality have been changed by ministering with so many who suffer discrimination and the effects of economic inequality and US policies and business practices.”
Sister Kathleen began her ministry in education, spending four years teaching at St. Joseph in Williston, South Dakota (1964-68) and four years at Mercy High School, Omaha, Nebraska (1968-72). She was the dean of women and director of the PACE program at Central Catholic High School in Denver, Colorado (1973-80). She then served as parish adult education minister at St. Joseph Parish, Devils Lake, North Dakota (1980-82).
Her ministries include serving the Sisters of Mercy Community on the Provincial Leadership Team (1982-86) and as Assistant Provincial (1986-90).
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Nebraska; a Master’s degree in Religious Education from Seattle University and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
Sister Delores Hannon. RSM, entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on September 8, 1969, knowing that she would want to minister in education. A math aficionado, Sister Delores spent the first six years of her ministry teaching at schools in Iowa: Regis High School (1972-74) in Cedar Rapids, St. John School (1974-76) in Waterloo, and All Saints School (1976-78) in Cedar Rapids. A move to Kalispell, Montana, began her ministry as a principal at St. Matthew School (1978-81). Then she was principal in Edina, Minnesota, at Our Lady of Grace School (1981-83), Sacred Heart School (1983-88) in Oelwein, Iowa, and St. Joseph School (1988-95) in Marion, Iowa.
Sister Delores spent the next eight years (1995-03) as vice-president of the leadership team of the former Cedar Rapids Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 2003 she was able to return to serve students as president of St. Edmond Catholic Schools (2003-09) in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She currently serves the nearly 400 students as President of Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I have enjoyed all of these opportunities with their joys and challenges. One of the greatest accomplishments is each year at graduation. It is a reminder of why I do what I do — support students in being their best selves,” she said.
Sister Delores has a Bachelor’s from Mount Mercy College (now University) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a Master’s from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Sister Mary Jeanne Ward, RSM, ‘59 (religious name Sister Mary Madonna), began working with the Sisters of Mercy at St. James Orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, when she was in sixth grade. She continued this through high school which confirmed her desire to be a Sister. She entered the Community after graduating from Mercy High School in 1959.
Sister Jeanne spent much of her early years in ministry working with children. She served at St. James Home in Omaha (1964-65); taught at St. Joseph Grade School, Denver, Colorado (1965-66); Holy Cross, Omaha (1966-68); St. Thomas More, Omaha (1968-70); St. James, Kansas City, Missouri (1970-71) and Madonna School, Omaha (1971-72).
In 1972, Sister Jeanne moved east and became the principal at St. Maurice School in Bethesda, Maryland. She stayed in this position until 1980 when she became the project director for Mercy National Center (1980-81), also in Bethesda.
From 1982-90, Sister Jeanne ministered in housing. First as an intern at Warren Village, Denver (1982-83), and then at Mercy Management Services in Boise, Idaho (1983-90).
She returned to Omaha in 1990 to serve on the Omaha Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy, a position she held until 1998. She continued to serve her Community as the retirement coordinator (1998-07) and then the archivist (2008-13). She continues to serve as a volunteer at Mercy Villa. “Being a part of our beloved senior Sisters lives is a privilege,” she said.
Sister Jeanne has a Bachelor’s Degree from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, a Master’s Degree from Saint Louis University, and advanced certificates from Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland, and University of Nebraska Omaha.
Mercy High School is celebrating a week-end of Fine and Performing Arts, May 3rd-5th. The events, which take place in Franey Hall, include the following:
Art Show, May 1st:
The show will feature award-winning student artwork from various local, state, and regional shows. The event officially opens at 3:00 p.m. with awards presented at 6:00 p.m. and the opening reception at 7:00 p.m. After May 1st, art will be on display in the media center and is open for viewing during the school day until May 6th. Seniors will have guest books for visitors to sign and leave comments in as well.
Music Concert, May 1st:
This concert will begin at 7:00 p.m., with the Concert Choir and Mercy High Singers performing a wide variety of choral selections. In addition, music awards will be presented to students in the Treblemakers, Concert Choir, and Mercy High Singers ensembles. The top senior soloists from the District Music Contest and the senior-led ensembles will perform. This event is free and open to the public.
Spring Dance Recital, May 5th
The recital will be at 6:00 p.m. There are 29 dancers involved in 20 dances. Dances include such dance styles as Modern, Jazz, Tap, and Hip Hop. Fifteen of the dances are student-choreographed. The event is free and open to the public.
Mercy High School will host its 14th annual “Clash of the Classes,” Varsity Soccer Invitational April 16 and April 17 at Creighton University’s Morrison Soccer Stadium.
Teams included in this year’s event are: Burke High School Bulldogs, Marian High School Crusaders, Mercy High School Monarchs and the Lincoln Pius X Thunderbolts.
The match schedule is:
• Game 1, Tuesday, April 16 at 5:30 p.m.: Marian vs. Burke
• Game 2, Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m.: Mercy vs. Pius X
• Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, Wednesday, April 17, 5:30 p.m.
• Championship Game Wednesday, April 17, 7:30 p.m
Admission is $6 for adults; $4 for high school students or younger. Center Trophy is providing the tournament awards.
Dr. Fred Jervzalski Kader, an orphaned child of the Holocaust, spoke to Mercy students during a special assembly on March 26. His talk was part of the Week of Understanding, an annual educational initiative created by the Institute for Holocaust Education and Omaha schools. He recalled a journey of revelation, where through chance meetings, conversations with people at conferences, discussions with family members, and insights from other survivors, he discovered his past and how he survived the Holocaust.
His story is chronicled through an article in the Omaha Jewish Press. One of the strongest lessons he learned is that without people helping him throughout his life, he would not be alive today.
“That is why I decided to become a doctor. It was my destiny to help others because so many helped me,” he said.
Dr. Kader worked at the University of Nebraska Medical Center before entering private practice. He retired last year.
Mercy High School is committed to providing our students with the knowledge and confidence to help them succeed which is why our school is introducing Kaleidoscope. This unique four-year leadership and empowerment program encourages each student to maximize individual strengths while providing a series of progressive opportunities to help each student reach her greatest potential. The program’s name was chosen because a group of butterflies, the school’s mascot is the monarch butterfly, is a kaleidoscope.
Working with the school’s Counseling Department, the Kaleidoscope program maps out a leadership curriculum that builds on the OnTo College with John Baylor, ACT preparation program that is provided free to every student. Using other community-based support including local businesses, influential community leaders, mental health and financial literacy experts, as well as alumnae and school resources, students have access to the tools and materials needed to help develop a plan of personal development.
One of the featured events, a female leadership symposium, set for April 1 at 7:40 a.m. at Mercy. Marquee participants include leaders from the Nebraska Unicameral, Creighton University, College of St. Mary, CHI Health, Methodist Hospital, Mutual of Omaha, The Lozier Corporation, Nebraska Families Collaborative, the Heider Foundation, the Archdiocese of Omaha, and Wells Fargo.
“Kaleidoscope is intended to complement our already rigorous academic programs by providing our students with the life-skills to assist them outside of the classroom. And much like a Kaleidoscope of butterflies evolves in their ever-changing environment, so too does this program!” said Mercy’s President, Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM.
Elements of the program include:
• Freshman introduction into Gallup’s Builder Profile 10, an assessment geared toward entrepreneurship and innovation.
• Sophomore introduction to CliftonStrengths, Gallup’s strengths assessment.
• Leadership Symposium for sophomores that provides dialogue and connections with female community and business leaders.
• Social and mental health awareness - A presentation from a mental health expert from CHI Health to discuss societal pressures, mental health, and strategies for coping with these issues.
• Career exploration - Sophomores and seniors were matched with alumnae specifically pertaining to the careers they are interested in so they can learn more about employment possibilities.
• OnTo College with John Baylor provides standardized test strategy and preparation for juniors.
• Financial literacy for seniors - A seminar provided by our community partner, American National Bank, in which students learn about loans, credit cards, bank accounts, and other relevant financial information.
For more information contact Mercy’s College Access Assistant Josah Driml-Powers ’98 at email@example.com. or 402.553.9424.
Twenty-two Mercy alumnae and four community representatives visited the sophomores and seniors to discuss careers on March 25. Students were surveyed about jobs they were interested in and alumnae in those fields were asked to attend.
In a “speed-date” like forum, students will rotate between alumnae grouped together by professional fields.
Careers of interest ranged from health care to public service, fine arts, education, and the law.
Our participants were:
Rose Grabow Anderson' 03, Owner of Baela Rose
Amanda Peterson Baker '98, Real Estate Appraisal at Kinteic Valuation Group
Siryeya Belton '09, Youth Pastor at Dream City Church Omaha
Molly Collins Beran, MD, FACOG '97, Doctor of Obstetrics and Gynocology with CHI Health
Katelyn Cherney '04, Staff Attorney at the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic at Creighton University School of Law
Kaylea Dunn '96, Performance Consultant at HDR
Malinda Frevert '07, Deputy Digital Director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Helen Holmes Giambrone '97, Disease Investigator at the Douglas County Health Department
Becky Dale Girthoffer '99, Global PMO Manager at LinkedIn
Emily Gonderinger '09, Transportation and Logistics Specialist at Gavilon
Kayla Thomas Haire '93, Media Relations Coordinator at Nebraska Medicine
Mary Kirchoffer, retired from the Omaha Police Department
Amy Harmon Lane, Ph. D. '86, Theater & Dance Coordinator at the Creighton University College of Arts & Sciences
Angela Wieberg Maynard, RN, BSN, CPN '83, Assistant Director, Clinical Support at Creighton University Student Health Services
Danielle Meier, Bass and Vice President of Artistic Administration at the Omaha Symphony
Kashmir Miedl '10, Owner of Theory 12 Massage and Wellness, LLC
Kelly Nystrom '86, Associate Professor and Acting Assistant Dean, Office of Academic and Student Affairs at the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
Meg Latka Peters '04, Nursing Informatics Lead at Nebraska Medicine
Leanne Prewitt '97, Creative Director at Ervin & Smith
Cynthia Russell, BS, DDS '76, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Creighton University School of Dentistry
Judy Niemoller Sorenson '75, VP/Audit Manager, Credit & Counterparty Audit at Bank of the West
Carolyn Andreasen Taylor '71, Teacher (retired) from Holy Cross Catholic School
Erin Walsh, PA-C, Physicians Assistant at Creighton University Student Health Services
Francie Riedmann Weis '81, Judge with the State of Nebraska
Brittany Willmore '08, Social Worker with the Nebraska AIDS Project
A representative from the Omaha Fire Department
It has been called a rite of passage, a privilege, and a one-of-a-kind connection program. The Sisters of Mercy’s Mentoring Program is one of the newer traditions at Mercy High School that has become a student favorite and part of the fabric of the school experience. The brainchild of then-Principal Carolyn Jaworski in 2002, the program is intended to promote awareness of the Sisters of Mercy, establish their presence beyond sisters at the school, and an opportunity to share their lives beyond teaching in the classroom.
“The idea came to me after I had an interview with a recent alumna. She talked about a similar program at her college where religious interacted with students on campus. I thought it had relevance here and brought the concept to the attention of our community leadership. They gave it their full support,” Carolyn said.
Four times a year the Sisters of Mercy meet with juniors at Mercy High School. 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, sustainability, racism, and more.
“Initially there was some apprehension from the Sisters because they haven’t been around students recently. That immediately dissipated when the program began, and it has become a favorite activity,” said Sr. Jeanne O’Rourke, RSM, Mercy’s Spiritual Companion who currently coordinates the program.
At the height of the program’s activity there were more than 100 students involved with 23 nuns; 21 nuns participate today.
“Everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard. It is a voluntary program, so juniors sign up for this activity. We usually have close to 100 percent participation,” Sr. Jeanne added.
Sr. Carolyn Coffey, RSM, ’57, a long-time participant in the program, said both parties benefit from the conversations. Some of her mentorships have lasted past high school with relationships with graduates who have careers and families now.
“What really strikes me is how appreciative the girls are. I have received notes from students telling me how much these efforts have helped them navigate their lives,” Sr. Carolyn said.
No other high school in the area has a program like this, and students see this as a special privilege. They also appreciate the sage advice they often receive and the memories the Sisters share.
“The Sisters of Mercy are always so sweet and welcoming. We talk about current events in the world and possible solutions on how to solve them,” said Maddie Rozmajzel ’20.
“I enjoy participating in this program because I like hearing about the memories the Sisters have about Mercy. I also just like getting to talk and learn about each other,” said Mia Shepoka ’20.
According to Sr. Jeanne, after 17 years the program continues to be a popular way to extend the Circle of Mercy.
Mercy High School awarded 16 scholarships to eighth graders at 12 schools totaling $64,000 on February 12th . Students received these scholarships based on results of the January placement exam. If students maintain their academic standing at Mercy, the scholarships are renewable for the same amount every year.
Mercy administrators, admissions and alumnae directors visited the following middle schools to present the scholarships:
Christ the King
Mary Our Queen
St. James Seton
St. Joan of Arc
St. John the Baptist Plattsmouth
St. Mary Bellevue
St. Thomas More
Some pictures of recipients are available here.
Responding to the call “to deepen our response to the unrecognized and un-reconciled racism past and present within our community,” the Sisters of Mercy began sponsoring Anti-Racism Analysis Workshops in 2010. Since that time, over 500 Sisters, Associates and co-workers have received anti-racism training through these four-day workshops. Extending the reach of the Community’s anti-racism efforts to sponsored ministries and local communities is one of the goals of this effort.
Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska, was the first, and currently the only, Mercy school to implement a two-year-old program from St. Mary’s Press called Understanding Racism. Ms. Melissa Regele, a theology instructor at Mercy, chose this program to help her senior theology classes, which focus on Catholic Social Teaching, to grow in the understanding of racism.
The goals of the program include:
• To learn what “race” is and isn’t, and to learn that racism is perpetuated by prejudices that are learned and can be unlearned.
• To be able to recognize how prejudice and unconscious bias generate racism.
• To develop empathy for populations targeted by racism.
• To empower students to live out the Gospel in today’s world. Students are engaged by interactive learning involving exploration and decision-making. When students encounter real-life scenarios throughout this course, they are “rehearsing for life.” They practice responding to difficult situations in the course so they are more prepared to value human diversity, defend universal human dignity, and act in solidarity in everyday life. (Melissa Johnson)
Melissa Johnson, one of the writers of the course, says, “This course enables students to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by becoming aware of oppressive social patterns and by following Jesus’ example of being in solidarity with people who are disadvantaged by these patterns.”
After attending the Mercy Secondary Education Conference in 2017, Regele decided to expand the discussion on Racism in her Catholic Social Teaching class. After working through the course on her own, she knew she wanted to try it with her class.
Initially, she was concerned that there would not be enough discussion to fill class time, so she had plenty of additional activities planned. She quickly learned that her students would easily fill the period with discussion. Students worked through the online modules on their own, which included readings, interactive activities such as polls and quizzes, and free response questions. During class, they would go through the provided reflection questions.
Juena Laa, a student in the class, was initially concerned about the subject matter. She completed the classwork that was intended to last ten days, in three. “At first I was concerned, but I got very comfortable while taking it, she said.”
Regele was pleased to find out that students were taking these discussions outside of the classroom as well. They brought the topic up in their other classes, the lunchroom, their friend groups, etc. Class member Mayela Hernandez said, “With my closer group of friends we talk about racism and immigration a lot more after taking this class. We are all more educated. It’s something we all need to talk about.”
Students also had conversations about racism with their parents. Kate Tietjen brought it up over family dinner. She said, “I did mention the course to my family. My grade school did not have diversity, and my family thought this would shape me into a more accepting person. Most people saw this as a great opportunity, but some people didn’t think it was as big of an issue in our society. Through this course, I realized racism is a bigger issue.”
According to student Megan Oswald, being more educated on the subject helps educate other people as well. “I felt more confident to stand up to other people if they were acting in a racist way or letting their implicit bias lead them,” she said.
When discussing if discussing racism in a more in-depth way was helpful, senior Uyen Nguyen said, “I feel like every school should do this because every school is preparing the youth that are going to be the future leaders of the world. If they don’t get this education, then we are going to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.”
The Mercy Education System of the Americas, which includes 56 schools in six countries and one territory, has also put together a series of guide on anti-racism, as well as the other critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy. These guides include questions, recommended topics and links to additional resources.
Just as the Mercy High students learned that conversations about racism must extend beyond the classroom, the Institute Anti-Racism Transformation Team (IARTT) has always seen the Analysis Workshops as a first step. Continued education and action steps are critical to being anti-racist. The IARTT is in the process of rolling out a series of educational modules so that graduates of the analysis workshop can continue their journeys on this topic.
She has been described as an adventurous, creative visionary with a heart of gold, committed to service with personality to spare. She is also a Sister of Mercy who is celebrating 50 years with her community and is currently serving as President of Mercy High School. Her name is Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM and her story is a fascinating journey of helping others and supporting students as an educator and administrator for more than 40 years.
She grew up on a mixed livestock farm in North English, Iowa, the only child of William and Mary Hannon. Much of Sr. Dee’s time was spent outdoors playing or doing chores, like milking cows. She went to small rural public schools until college and was involved in the local church attending vacation Bible camp and studying the Catechism.
Sr. Dee loved school and had a special aptitude for math, deciding to attend Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to earn a degree in math. Thanks not only to her mom and dad but to many of her extended family who provided financial support, she was able to attend college. She also received a math scholarship.
“Sputnik was in the news and encouraging a young woman to go to college and study math was highly desirable, so I received a substantial scholarship,” she said.
While at the university, Sr. Dee was inspired by the Sisters of Mercy who ministered there including Sister Agnes Hennessy, the president, and one of her teachers, Sister Gladys Daly, who lived on her dorm floor.
Sr. Dee knew she wanted to live a life of service and even considered the Peace Corps.
“Mount Mercy changed the course of my life,” she said. “It was where I met the Sisters of Mercy, and I entered the community my sophomore year. The concept of service was very appealing. Sometimes in vocation reflections I will tell people that I was too afraid to join the Peace Corps, so I joined the Sisters of Mercy. I have stayed with the community because of the Sisters I met, and it is the best place for me to be,” she added.
After graduating, Sr. Dee was tapped by senior leadership from the Sisters of Mercy to serve as a principal, and she was encouraged to obtain her Master’s Degree in Education.
She became a principal at St. Matthews Grade School in Kalispell, Montana, in 1978 and went on to be principal at Our Lady of Grace School in Edina, Minnesota, in 1981. From 1983 to 1995 Sr. Dee was the principal at several grade schools in Iowa. She’s also been the Vice President of the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the President of St. Edmond Catholic School in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She became President of Mercy High School in 2009.
“One of my greatest joys is to see what students have become -- when I knew them as kindergarteners and then the fine men and women they are today,” she said.
Always one to dive right in, Sr. Dee as she is affectionately known, has tried many things from skydiving, (where she earned the nickname “Flying Nun”) to whale watching to horseback riding to participating in pie throwing and dunk tanks.
As one of her colleagues said, “Dee has a zest for life and is not afraid to put herself out there.”
Since she arrived at Mercy High School, she has become the “face of Mercy” and has a long list of accomplishments. Some highlights include:
• Keeping the mission of Mercy at the forefront of the school’s educational commitment.
• Providing prudent fiscal management. She has sustained the school’s Negotiated Tuition Program, which distributed $1.8 million in tuition assistance to deserving students, and she has helped Mercy make significant infrastructure improvements including a new HVAC system and renovated science laboratories. Sr. Dee accomplished all of this while not incurring additional debt.
• Enhancing the awareness of and support for the school. The school has refined its brand and increased its advancement activities.
She has also lent her considerable educational and administrative talents to several other groups and received a number of prestigious awards. Sr. Dee is a Board member of the College of St. Mary, a Trustee of Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, and a member of the Financial Advisory Committee of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest. Last year, she received Creighton Preparatory High School’s Sword of St. Ignatius, an honor given to a person who has striven to demonstrate exemplary service for the greater glory of God. In 2015, Mercy High School received the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award. Mercy is the only high school to receive this award.
When asked to reflect on celebrating 50 years with the Sisters of Mercy, Sr. Dee said, “This commitment is a journey. You have to continue to reflect on it and review it. One of the greatest accomplishments is each year at graduation. It is a yearly reminder of why I do what I do: support students in being their best selves.”
She is especially excited about recent efforts by the school to support students as they plan for college, and she is looking forward to developing the next phase of the Strategic Plan for the school.
Sr. Delores Hannon will be honored at the school’s annual FIESTA on February 16, 2019.
Mercy High School honored donors and dedicated two renovated science laboratories on October 23. More than 150 supporters generously donated over $800,000 to this project. Lead donors included the Mammel Family Foundation, Dr. C. C. and Mabel Criss Memorial Foundation, and The Lozier Foundation. In addition, Mercy received a $40,000 federal grant to purchase science equipment.
The renovated labs are designed to facilitate interactive experimentation and collaboration and are packed with technology to best complement the transfer of information.
Specific enhancements include updated workspace islands, integrated projection systems for sharing of knowledge, upgraded gas, water and electrical infrastructure, digital analysis enhancements and improved lighting and ventilation.
These labs are critical to the delivery of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum. As part of its Strategic Plan, Mercy continues to embrace and enhance its STEAM programming that integrates these areas of study, leverages the school’s educational expertise, instills critical thinking through the practical applications of knowledge and raises awareness of career choices in these fields.
Mercy offers a variety of science, chemistry and physics courses including Biology, Honors and AP Biology, Chemistry, Honors and AP Chemistry, Human Anatomy and Physiology and Physics as well as Foundations of STEAM in the renovated spaces.
Mercy has embraced the commitment to STEAM and its principles, reinforcing to its students the job opportunities that are available to women in these fast-growing fields. Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U. S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEAM-related jobs.
“These donors understand how their generous investments in these laboratories will help our students reach their full potential, helping us build leaders to make a difference in our community,” said Delores Hannon, RSM, President, Mercy High School.
More than 17 Mercy High Seniors will be shadowing with Mercy alumnae on October 10 to get a feel for possible careers after high school. The 2nd Annual Shadow Day is a half-day event from 8 a.m.-noon, and includes the students looking at positions in health care, law, pharmacy, education, engineering, law, marketing and communications, nursing, teaching, pharmacy, and more.