The Kohl Mansion, home to Mercy High School, is located on 40 acres of land in the Burlingame hills. The 63 room rose brick mansion was to be the central building in a grand estate which would include tennis courts, green houses, a rose garden, a large carriage house, and a 150,000 gallon reservoir. In 1924 the Sisters of Mercy bought the Kohl Mansion as their Motherhouse. The Sisters opened the high school in the Kohl Mansion in 1931 after building a new Motherhouse on the lower campus.
French classes at Serra and Mercy held a "Chopped" contest where a Mercy and Serra student were paired as chef teams to make, with a variety of ingredients, a mixed salad, 2 quiches, and crepes.
It was a fast paced fun afternoon. For many, kitchen skills were tested to the max, as others, learned (the hard way) the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini...one pair ended up with only one egg to make a quiche, and burned bacon, but in the end they all persevered and made tasty edible dishes!
The dishes were judged by French teachers Ms. Dowden and Ms. Barthe as well as one student. Special thanks to all who participated. Top winners of the day included First place Chefs Itzel Velasquez and Luke Besse!
After moving to Kenya in 1998 with her family, Michele Ostertag '87 saw that because of the HIV Aids epidemic there were many widows and orphans living at the poverty level. At that time, over 32% of the population was affected in some way. In the Kenyan culture families are more united – you will see different generations living together and caring for each other but she saw how hard it was for families who were barely getting by to take in another orphan child of a relative and having one more mouth to feed
Having lost her mother as a young adult, she had a special interest to help children, especially orphans, and she began working with the local communities. She found that in order to strengthen the families to allow them to care for the children that they needed to be given life skills. Using her combined skills and experience in business and holistic health, she identified a need for capacity building initiatives that recognized the importance of individual and community growth going hand in hand. She started the first of these community projects in 2002 with the Rafiki wa Maendeleo Lusi Trust and Resource Center in western Kenya.
Here families are taught how to raise chicken and goats to take to market, they learn how to sew and keep beehives. They teach families how to increase their income, so that the profits raised from these businesses would help these orphaned children to be able to attend Secondary schooling, and to eventually be able to pay for all educational fees and not be a burden to their families. In the first Village, the women even created a small Savings and Loan and from their savings were able to "loan" money to other's so that they too could begin to break the cycle of poverty. Michele explained that after a few years, what she was doing came to be noticed by World Organizations. At that time Rafiki was helping 1 village of 83 children. With their help and resources, Rafiki now serves 35 villages with over 2,500 children!
Michele spoke of how Mercy engages their students in what's happening in the world and teaches them to be conscious members of society. For her, this has been a journey of Faith and is her calling in life. Michele stated that "It is all about uniting people, and that once you have that "buy in" from them, then the community takes this into their own hands and moves forward to make improvements in their life. As the saying goes.... If you give a man a fish he has food for the day, but if you teach him to fish he has food for a lifetime! Thank you Michele!
Last week the girls from Susan Roughgarden's Freshman History class were treated to a special talk by Bud Simon a WWII Vet who fought as a Marine in the Pacific Theater. Bud, who is 95 year's old now explained to the girls about the draft during WWII and how he was part of a Marine Aviation Squadron that protected the 37th Infantry & Calvary on the "Dash to Manila." He also told the girls that a prototype of the Drone airplanes that we see now were actually being developed in WWII and that this information was classified for 25 years after the war!
Bud was joined by Connie Johnson, RN who is a member of the Honor Flight Bay Area Organization. This organization was created to honor American' Veterans for all of their sacrifices. Each year, they transport our heroes to Washington, DC to visit and reflect at their memorials with priority given to Senior Vets.
Bud was honored to go last year, and he told the girls about how moving it was to lay a wreath at the Memorial. Bud's story was very inspiring, especially when he told the girls that he believes that ," Freedom is not Free – It must always be guarded and oftentimes paid for with the sacrifice of others." We salute you Bud Simon!
The magic of learning becomes more tangible when students relate an experience to their learning life. During their Sophomore Religion class Service Retreat Raquel Camacho and Yasmine Dudum did just that!
The girls had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at the St. Anthony's Senior Center in San Francisco. Their chance meeting with "Beatriz" presented them a unique moment to connect with one of the seniors. The bonus for them came when their communication unfolded in Spanish, a language both girls are learning here at Mercy! Talk about bringing their verbs and vocabulary to life!
"We met a nice lady named Beatriz who had had a stroke earlier in her life. Because of this she had great difficulty speaking," said Raquel. The girls were told that Beatriz's native language is Spanish. "And we were interested in knowing where she was from, but she couldn't tell us," added Yasmine. Naturally the girls moved easily into conversation in Spanish. Beatriz lit up with a smile at hearing these young girls reaching out in her native language. Every effort to speak failed her, so our girls found a solution – give Beatriz paper and pencil, and so they asked her to write her country...and naturally, they asked in Spanish!. Raquel remembered learning somewhere that the right hand is dominant, but noticed that Beatriz was mostly paralyzed due to her stroke. Beatriz continued trying to write, but to no avail. Suddenly, while looking into their inspiring eyes, she finally managed her verbal thought, blurting, GUATEMALA! Raquel and Yasmine hugged her in recognition of her efforts and her success. Truly they witnessed the power of caring and the power of language!
Photo: Yasmine Dudum and Raque Camacho l retelling the story to Kristen Dudum
This past week the Mercy High School Junior Class participated in the first ritual of becoming an upper classmen...they received their High School Rings!
The girls came together for a lovely service and Assistant Director of Student Life and Athletics, Claire Rietmann-Grout gave a wonderful talk about the Mercy sisterhood and what it really meant to her. The service ended with roses being passed out by Karen Hanrahan, Head of School and currently Mercy Alumnae on staff.
It was truly a special moment, when Junior, Kiley O'Brien compared rings with that of her Grandmother, Susan Pringle Smith '63....although some things many change, some Mercy traditions continue to this day!
Students from Mercy, Notre Dame and Serra were lucky enjoy to participate in a Poverty Simulation on October 12 at Mercy High School. This was an opportunity for students to learn about poverty in the Bay Area through an engaging interactive presentation.
Not only did they learn about poverty but also about the housing crisis and immigration issues particular to the Bay Area. Special thanks goes out to the Inter-Faith Council of Oakland who facilitated this simulation for the three schools.
Mrs. Nazira Kury-Arnold Chair of the VPA Department at Mercy Burlingame stated that "The annual visit to photography class is one that we all look forward to!" This year's visit included a lizard, an opossum, a barn owl and a hedgehog. The photos will be used to create Warhol styled Pop Prints and will be featured at the Mercy ArtsFest in May. Special thanks to Madeline Morales for the photos.
This past Mercy Day, at a joint mass celebration with St. Peters School, Mercy Burlingame Head of School, Karen Hanrahan took a moment at the end of mass to honor two Mercy students. Ms. Hanrahan announced that Julianna A. Bencze of Half Moon Bay and Sin Ting "Abby" Hui of Millbrae had been named Commended Students in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program.
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are currently being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. These commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students that entered the 2017 competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
We congratulate Julianna and Abby for their outstanding academic success!
Classes from 2006 to 1946 gathered together to celebrate the Mercy High School annual Alumnae Homecoming which was held on Sunday, September 18th. Over 150 alumnae gathered together and enjoyed Coffee with the Sisters, followed by Mass and a wonderful luncheon! Alumnae loved being together – many not having been back to Mercy since their graduation! The
Class of 2006 was excited to be able to meet Margaret Trembly Wyman '46 and posed for a photo! Click HERE to see some of the Class reunion photos.
Last week we celebrated Women's Equality Day, and we were pleased to welcome Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Congresswoman Speier, a 1968 graduate of Mercy High School Burlingame explained to the girls that a joint resolution was passed in 1971 by Congress granting this date be established to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
Jackie brought out various items, and asked the girls to guess if the price was the same for the same product, and the girls found out that they weren't – and she explained that she is working on repelling the "Pink Tax" – which refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Things like dry cleaning, personal care products and vehicle maintenance.
Congresswomen Speier explained to the girls how important this is, and that although we have come a long way, with our rights and privileges, including the right to vote and Title IX for women's sports, that unfortunately we still have a ways to go – especially in the area of equal pay for equal work.
Congresswomen Speier then introduced Phyliss Gould, one of the original Rosie the Riveters. Phyliss now 95, told her story and explained that she was one of the first six women welders to be hired by the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, Calif. There she and many other took over the job previously occupied by the men called off to WWII and not only did they do the same work, but they did get equal pay – so it can be done, we just have to make sure that equality happens for all. She is currently
very involved in the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond and one of the last items on her bucket list is to have a National Rosie the Riveter Day, which Congresswomen Speier has agreed to help her obtain!
At the end of the rally – Congresswomen Speier introduced her daughter Stephanie Sierra '12 who also told the girls to enjoy their time at Mercy as it will go way to quickly and encouraged them to always follow their dreams!
Mercy welcomes the Class of 2020 alumnae moms and daughters.
This year's class includes: Brenda Palala Almes '82 and Alexa, Amanda Fischer '94 and Avery (not pictured), Erin Welch Galea '96 and Ryan, Phaidra Pavia Garcia '88 and Caitlin, Linda Cuneo Giusto '86 and Angela, Kellie Quinn Richards '91 and Kaylie, Jacqueline Birkeland Rodriguez '92 and Riley, Karen Gallagher Sammons '82 and Reagan (not pictured) and Lori Smiley-Klingler '89 with Jacqueline and Haylee. Congratulations!
Mercy is pleased to honor all students who have distinguished themselves academically, artistically, and in service to their school, class and community. Mercy High School is proud to recognize these students who exemplify the mission of the school as they strive to become young women of faith, academic excellence, influence, and compassionate service, embodying Catherine McAyley's spirit of Mercy.
Special congratulations this year's Valedictorian Hannah Sidhu and to Cassie Miller, this year's Salutatorian.
Please click HERE for the 2015-2016 Undergraduate and Senior Awards.
It was a bittersweet moment as the faculty, staff and students of Mercy High School Burlingame honored Kathy Mountain and Eileen Horan. These two long time and beloved faculty members will be retiring at the end of this school year, At the assembly they were awarded Mercy highest honor, and presented with McAauley Medals for their many years of service.
These two wonderful women have become part of the true "Heart of Mercy." For the past 25+ years they have put their heart and soul into the education of young women. During their time at Mercy, Ms. Horan has taught English and Ms. Mountain taught both English and Social Studies.
They are true examples educators teaching in the "spirit" of Cahtherine McAuley, Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. For each of these women, the girls came first; and they have always done everything in their power to see that each student they taught took something away from their class that would help them along in life.
Though the years, there has not been a costume that Ms. Horan has not donned for one of her Advisories, for a rally or for Bowlathon! She has always been there to offer a gentle hug or a kind a word of encouragement or helpful critique for her student's writing.
As for Ms. Mountain, there isn't alum around who doesn't still remember "Ms. Mountain's Words", or how they learned the art of debate or remember the great times they had at a JSA Convention because she prepared them so well!
We wish them well as they begin their new adventures, and look forward to having them come back walk the halls of Mercy as often as they choose!
Congratulations to Lauren Rocheleau '17 winner of the "Spirit of Mercy Memorial Scholarship in Memory of Moira '90, Cindy '92 and Angelina '99." The Spirit of Mercy Memorial Scholarship was established on May 9, 2006 by the O'Donnell and Caughman families. This annual scholarship is awarded to a junior student who exemplifies the Mercy spirit and the values that guided Moira and Cindy's lives: "faith, love, courage, compassion, generosity, social justice, and a joy for life." This is the highest award presented to a junior student. The parents of Moira, Cindy and Angelina were present at this year's award assembly to congratulate Lauren on her accomplishments in honor of their daughter's!
On Saturday night Toni Breidnger took 1st place at the Las Vegas Bullring racing her Royal Purple, USAC midget in the Western HPD midget series.
Her sister Annie Breidnger, starting from 6th position made a series of wheel-to-wheel passes to finish in 2nd place. This race marks the second time that these twin sisters have crossed the finish line 1st and 2nd in the USAC Western HPD Midget Series.
Given as College Scholarships to the Class of 2015
Average Service Hours Annually
Students Average Class Size
Play more than one Sport
Mercy Sister schools globally
Students Average AP Class Size
Participate in an Extra-curricular Activity
Student to Teacher Ratio
Students in Leadership
"Best of Both Worlds"
Mercy girls are part of a more than 80 year old tradition of inspiring young women to achieve great things, and they love it. At an all-girls school like Mercy, a girl occupies every role: every seat on student government or Kairos, every position on every team. Every day, a Mercy girl sees girls learning, growing and achieving – and she has more opportunities to do the same. At Mercy, young women are known, challenged and transformed.