OLMA senior, Tori Smith (on right), was determined to do it and she did — along with teammate, Sydney Prescott. Congratulations Tori and Sydney on making CAL First Team for basketball! You are amazing! Many thanks to Coach McNelia for your never-ending dedication to our girls and school!
If you know Amanda Willis, you are well aware of her love of all things basketball. Nothing short of an injury (sometimes, not even that!) can keep her off the court. She started playing at the ripe old age of 11 and has no plans to stop anytime soon. Her basketball idol? LeBron James, number 23, of the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I wear the same number on my jersey,” said Amanda. “I’m a huge fan of the NBA, but my favorite team is definitely the Cavaliers.”
That said, it should come as no surprise that Amanda has her sights set on attending Ohio State University. I’ve heard amazing things about its science programs,” she said. “It’s also big on athletics, which is important to me. I haven’t heard from them yet, but expect to soon. I check the online portal and wait anxiously for the mail every day.”
When asked how she found herself at OLMA, the Mullica Hill resident said that her mom wanted the best school possible for her. “At the time, we lived in Blackwood and my mom wasn’t happy with the choices there. She really thought I would thrive at OLMA and she was right. Everyone here is so open. You can talk to anyone about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever find that anywhere else.”
Amanda is an excellent student, athlete and leader. She plays basketball and lacrosse, is president of the senior class and a member of the Interact Club. “This is my first year on student government,” said Amanda. “I used to shy away from things like that, but I’ve broken out of my shell and didn’t want to leave OLMA without that experience.” She ran and won, which says a lot for the confidence her classmates have in her.
Looking ahead, Amanda wants to pursue a career in the medical field. She’s not sure of the specifics just yet, but looks forward to figuring that out — hopefully, at Ohio State. We hope so too, Amanda, but know you will be a huge success wherever you land. There’s not a college in the land that wouldn’t benefit from having you on its rolls.
Imagine waking up one morning unable to see, with no idea why. That’s exactly what happened to OLMA freshmen, Morgan Kenny, when she was 13 years old.
“For an entire year, my mom and I traveled across the country visiting doctor after doctor getting a different diagnosis from each one,” said Morgan. “None of them were correct and my condition got worse as I started to have very serious panic attacks. Before this happened, I was involved in sports, theater, voice, and dabbled in pageants. I even performed on Broadway, and had to stop everything. I also lost a year of school.”
At last, the Kennys found a doctor who saw something the others had not. It turned out that Morgan had a fall during a gymnastics practice six or so weeks before she lost her sight. “I fell and hit my head, but was fine,” she said. “In gymnastics, you fall all the time. I felt fine and perfectly normal, until I woke up unable to see. No one, not even my mom and I, connected the fall with my condition until we saw Dr. Vincent Vicci. What we thought was a simple fall, turned out to be a type of Traumatic Brain Injury that doesn’t show any symptoms right away.”
While her recovery involved surgery, special eye wear and many visits to doctors and physical therapists, Morgan is working her way back — and shining every step of the way. While her injury hasn’t allowed her to return to some of her former activities, Morgan found her niche in the world of pageantry. She recently retired her title of USA National Miss Garden State Jr. Teen 2017, and was just crowned Miss Delaware High School America 2018. In June, she will advance to the National Competition to be held in Little Rock, Arkansas. These pageants are part of the Miss High School America Pageant Organization. In Morgan’s case, she qualified to compete in Delaware even though she resides outside the state and attends OLMA.
In her new role, Morgan will spend the next year promoting her platform — Navigating the Neurotic Tunnel. She will be doing everything possible to increase the awareness of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and the need to more easily diagnose them. “My ultimate goal is to educate people about TBI and raise enough funds to begin improving the diagnostic equipment currently available in doctor’s offices and hospitals. After being misdiagnosed so many times, I want to help make sure that others don’t have to go through what I did.”
Morgan joined OLMA in September after relocating to South Jersey. She is thriving in every way and is a regular contributor to the life of our school. We are proud of you, Morgan, and look forward to supporting you — and your platform — in the years ahead. Congratulations!
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!
Our Lady of Mercy Academy is pleased to offer a SUMMER AT OLMA SERIES of Athletic and Academic camps!
As part of our Athletic Camps, you will work directly with our coaches and Varsity players to develop new and sharpen existing skills. You will also stay in shape, make new friends and have a fantastic time exploring our campus. This summer’s Academic Camps will take a fun approach to keeping the learning coming, as well as to building courage and confidence.
Click here for more information.
When it comes to having a charming personality, OLMA senior, Gabby Poe, has that and then some. In fact, some may say that it’s in her blood as she’s originally from Savannah, Georgia, a town that’s as charming as they come. Gabby is smart, sweet, caring, kind, and not afraid to speak her mind. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it.
For Gabby, that means a career in medicine. While she’s still waiting to hear from her top college choice, she has already been accepted to: Rutgers University, the University of Delaware, Providence College, James Madison University and the University of Connecticut. Her number one is the University of Maryland as it offers everything she’s looking for academically, and is also in close proximity of her brother who serves in the Army National Guard.
As she talked about the future, Gabby says she can’t believe how quickly the years have passed. “I was originally supposed to go to Sacred Heart,” she recalled. “When that school closed, OLMA was my best option. I’m so glad because it’s awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing. I especially can’t imagine going to a co-ed school. An all-girls environment is a big advantage.”
Academically, Gabby has done extremely well. “I’ve earned Principal’s List almost every quarter while here,” she said. “The fact that I have a special connection with all of my teachers has helped make that possible. It’s those connections that I will miss the most.” Athletically, Gabby played four years of soccer. “I had a great season this year.” said Gabby. “Coach and I finally found the right position for me. “I was able to excel and really contribute to the team. It was great.” Gabby is also a lacrosse player and is excited to begin her fourth year on OLMA’s team.
Where Gabby really shines is as a leader. She is an Interact Club officer and Vice President of her class — a position she also held in her sophomore year. Gabby is a regular at the PB&J sandwich-making table on Thursdays and enjoys helping others. “One of the main reason that I’ve chosen to become a doctor is to be able to help others,” she said. “That has always been something I wanted to do.”
When asked about her favorite memories from the last four years, Gabby said there are too many to count. Of course, her recent trip to Disney ranks right up there, but she will forever treasure all of her time at OLMA. “My advice to current and incoming freshmen is to start making those memories now,” she said. “Don’t waste any time because before you know it, you’ll be graduating.”
We will miss you and all of your classmates, but take comfort in knowing that you are ready for whatever comes next. For now, enjoy the rest of this year and remember that wherever you land for college, you will surely be a star.
OLMA freshman, Ani Schubert, plays basketball and soccer, is an excellent student, a member of the Interact Club, is part Australian and Armenian, and is a born leader. Ani came to OLMA from St. Joseph’s Regional School in Hammonton. She was in search of a new environment and OLMA fit the bill. “I shadowed when I was in seventh grade and that was it,” said Ani. “I was good to go after just one visit. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, so I knew this was where I wanted to be..”
Ani said that one of things she likes the most about OLMA is that students can be friends with girls in other grades, as well as their own. “Some of my first new friends were seniors,” she said. “I met them at a summer sports camp and at the Big-Little Sleepover that they hosted right before school started. I entered the school that day with no friends and left the next morning with a million.”
Ani said that she also loves the feel of empowerment that’s in the air at OLMA. “Bravery Training is helping us to do things that I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we could do,” she said. “We’re learning to believe in ourselves and in the fact that we can achieve anything if we’re willing to work for it.”
One of the things that Ani is most passionate about is helping others. She recently joined the Interact Club and has already helped with a number of service projects including writing letters to a woman recovering from Cancer, making no-slip socks for kids, making Giving Tree tags for St. Padre Pio Parish, and making butterflies to be included in the “Forgotten” exhibit that is being created by Cumberland County College in recognition of the children of the Holocaust. Ani was also one of two Interact members who attended the organization’s annual Leadership Day. She and sophomore, Meadow Karpiak, proudly represented OLMA.
When she looks to the future, Ani says that she wants to go into Law Enforcement. “I’m especially interested in working in forensics,” she said. When asked about why this field interests her, she said, “It’s all about helping people, which is what I want to do.”
For now, Ani is looking forward to Mini-Mesters in June. She will be participating in the Digital Photography Mini-Mester taught by Mrs. DeValerio. “I’ve been begging my parents for a digital camera and finally got one,” she said. “I can’t wait to learn to use it properly, especially when we go overnight to Philadelphia to work in a real photo studio.”
Enjoy every minute of it, Ani! By the way, Mrs. Kinkade and Mrs. Helms are always looking for student photographers, so consider yourself hired!
OLMA Students Take Action with Prayer
In a show of support for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, OLMA students put prayer to work during a special service held this morning. It began inside the OLMA Chapel and ended with a procession outside where the names of each of the 17 victims were read aloud followed by the tolling of a bell.
“Acts of violence, like the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL, affect us all and, as high school students, we become connected to these victims,” said OLMA junior, Maria Eaise. “As the rising generation, we feel the need to voice our concerns about our future and speak out to help create positive change. We think Parkland should evoke a greater feeling of responsibility among teenagers and a realization that now, more than ever, we need to value and be grateful for life.”
Eaise, joined by classmates, Samantha McBurrows and Alex Bisignaro, were among the 40 high school students who met with Diocese of Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan recently to discuss the Parkland, FL, tragedy and how to take action in a meaningful way. “When our students returned from the meeting with Bishop Sullivan, I asked them to work together to plan something we could do as a school in honor of all victims of violence,” said Brooke Coyle, Head of School. “They decided that the prayer service that we held today was the best way to convey our collective sorrow for what has happened, as well as our hope for the future.”
Located in Newfield, NJ, Our Lady of Mercy Academy is South Jersey’s premier Catholic high school for young women. Through a challenging academic curriculum, diverse extra-curricular program, hands-on leadership experience, and the spirit of sisterhood, OLMA students thrive and are forever bonded in faith and friendship. For more information, visit the OLMA website at www.olmanj.org, or call (856) 697-2008.
Link to additional images and video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/hvNqRQGvXjOd0ljB2