After spending her first two years of high school on another campus, Ava Casale decided to make a change. While she performed well both academically and athletically at her former school, she felt that something was missing. Fast forward a few months and the decision to transfer, and Ava says she found that something and so much more.
“I’m so happy to be here,” said Ava. “The environment at OLMA is so different from what I was used to. Everyone is very close and I feel like I actually have relationships with my teachers. They all know me and exactly what I need to succeed. I love every one of my classes and have made great new friends.”
Ava was one of five young women to transfer into the Class of 2020 this year. “It was great because there were a few of us who were new,” said Ava. “We were invited to the Big-Little Sleepover, assigned Big Sisters and immediately felt at home. I also started practicing with the soccer team which is a family all its own. We take care of each other and, while athletics here are very competitive, they are also still fun. I think a lot of that comes from the overall culture of the school.”
While we knew Ava was a talented athlete, we didn’t know just how great a leader she was — until our recent Powder Puff game. Led by Ava, the junior class team won the first round and then faced the seniors in the final. “We only had time to practice together for about an hour before the real thing,” said Ava. “That wasn’t much time, but I knew we would be okay. As quarterback, I asked them to trust me, and they did. We are a small class,so we all played the whole game, which gave us time to really gel. One play at a time, we worked together, trusted each other and got the win. It was so much fun. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.” Ava was named the team MVP.
In addition to her love of football, Ava also played soccer for OLMA this fall and will be on the basketball court this season. She also plans to play softball in the spring. “No one really likes to change schools half way though high school, but OLMA made it easy,” said Ava. “The transition was seamless and I’m so glad I made the move.” We are too, Ava. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
OLMA Freshman, Lindsey Serafine, travels 45 minutes to get to school each morning and says that she’d go even further if that’s what it took to get her to and from OLMA each day. “I absolutely love school,” says Lindsey, “and I’m so happy to be here. OLMA is a place where you never have to be afraid to be yourself or show your emotions. If you feel down, there’s someone to comfort you, and if you feel like jumping up and down because you’re excited about something, your friends will jump up and down with you!”
Lindsey and her twin sister, Anissa, first found out about OLMA from the sisters of their brother’s friends. “When Joey started going to the Prep, his friends would come over and tell us how much their sisters liked OLMA and then we met some of them and heard it first hand,” she said. “Even though we live in Tabernacle, we wanted to check it out, so we shadowed. That was all we needed. I couldn’t believe how well everyone got along and the connection the girls had with each other and with their teachers. We knew this was where we wanted to be.”
Lindsey admits to being a little worried at first about the fact that there were no boys at OLMA, but says she doesn’t even notice any more. “So many of my friends from middle school were guys, so I wasn’t sure how it would be without them,” she said. “Now, I absolutely love the fact that that we are all girls and wouldn’t want to go back to having boys at school. I’m still friends with the kids I went to middle school with, but love that we are all girls during the school day.”
When asked about what she thought of last week’s Sisterhood Olympic Games, she said, “I have no words to express how great it was. The teams had so much energy and the seniors in my group were so helpful. They took us under their wings and it really felt like family. Besides, where else can you dress up like we did and put a whole bottle of glitter in your hair for the day?”
She makes a good point!
So far this year, Lindsey says that Bravery Training is her favorite class. “Something I struggle with is staying out of my own head,” she said. “I’m my own worst critic and that’s not always good. In Bravery, I’m learning how to turn the critic into a cheerleader.”
Linsdey is a member of the OLMA Field Hockey Team and plans to play lacrosse this spring. She’s also a member of the OLMA Interact Club and recently spent a Saturday morning picking up trash along the beach in Atlantic City. “I could not believe how many bags we filled with trash,” she said. “There was so much and it felt good to be part of making a difference.”
Making a difference seems to be in your DNA, Lindsey. We are so blessed to have you here!
OLMA Receives $10,000 Award to Create Model Classroom
One of 25 schools to receive a portion of Ocean First Foundation’s $250.000 program.
Our Lady of Mercy Academy’s (OLMA’s) efforts to raise awareness among its students of the many career opportunities available to women in business recently received a big boost thanks to a $10,000 award presented to the all-girls’ school by OceanFirst Foundation. OLMA was one of 12 elementary schools, seven middle schools and six high schools selected from 144 applicants to each receive a $10,000 grant for use in improving academic achievement.
OLMA will utilize its $10,000 grant to transform a Laptop Lab into a fully functional Center for Business and Collaborative Learning.
The classroom will be geared for primary use by juniors and seniors as part of a four-semester business education program. The program will focus on using hands-on and simulated learning to introduce and provide skills for use in business careers in which women are underrepresented, yet successful and in high demand. As part of the initiative, OLMA will establish a DECA chapter and develop courses focused on business fundamentals, create a business specific Job Shadow Program, recruit alumnae and other women in business and related fields to become part of a Business Speakers Series, explore dual credit and/or certification opportunities, and form an Advisory Board of experts. The room will be outfitted with a stock ticker display, collaborative furnishings and interactive learning tools.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the OceanFirst Foundation as we work to provide our students with every opportunity possible for them to discover themselves and explore the many career possibilities that await them,” said Brooke A. Coyle. “The more informed they are now, the better job they’ll do when it comes to selecting colleges and fields of study. We are incredibly grateful to OceanFirst Foundation and intend to make them proud.”
Thousands of students across Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties will see improvements to their classrooms this fall as part of the $250,000 Model Classroom Grant Program. Since its inception, the OceanFirst Foundation has awarded 6,600 grants totaling more than $36 million to over 900 local organizations, charities and schools throughout central and southern New Jersey.
“OceanFirst Bank has built a solid reputation and legacy as a good neighbor and responsible corporate citizen,” said Christopher D. Maher, Chairman of the OceanFirst Foundation and President, Chief Executive Officer, OceanFirst Bank, who was joined at the presentation event by OceanFirst Foundation Executive Director, Kathy Durante. “Our commitment to helping families, organizations, schools and communities throughout central and southern New Jersey has spanned several generations. Through the OceanFirst Foundation, we are proud to support these 25 outstanding schools and this wonderful educational program.”
Our Lady of Mercy Academy, located in Newfield, NJ, is South Jersey’s only all-girls’ Catholic high school. Through a challenging academic curriculum, diverse extra-curricular program, hands-on leadership experiences, and the spirit of sisterhood, our students are forever bonded in faith and friendship. For more information, call (856) 697-2008, or visit OLMANJ.ORG.