Mercy Girls are part of a more than 85-year-old tradition of inspiring young women to achieve great things. Here, a girl occupies every role: every seat on student council, every position on a team, every club leadership role. Each day, our students see girls learning, growing and achieving – and take advantage of the myriad of opportunities to do the same. At Mercy, young women are known, challenged and transformed.
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.
On December 18, we welcomed Congresswoman Jackie Speier '68 to discuss her new book, Undaunted. During the hour-long conversation with Alumnae Relations Manager Jamila Zanette '04, Jackie shared stories about her formative years growing up in South SF and Burlingame. She reflected on her experience as a student at Mercy Burlingame, and how the sisterhood bonds she formed continue to impact her today. She discussed the ways that spirituality has shaped her life - contributing to her resilience and determination - and the influence the Sisters of Mercy's teachings had on her, commenting, "Mercy High School taught me about social justice." Describing the strong women in her life, Jackie shared how their fortitude set an example and informed her outlook. She even recounted stories from her early experience in politics as a volunteer for Leo J. Ryan's state legislative campaign.
In response to audience questions, Jackie shared her thoughts on a range of topics, including challenges facing the Bay Area, as well as her positivity and hope for the future. She concluded that determination and adaptability, themes seen throughout her life and her book, were instrumental in her success and she encouraged all in attendance to forge ahead, undaunted.
Last month, Olivia Siri '19 participated in the National Association for Music Education 2018 All-National Honor Ensemble choir at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Selected through a highly competitive audition process, Olivia joined the 'best of the best' in an ensemble performance directed by distinguished conductor Dr. Amanda Quist of Westminster Choir College, a prestigious music school.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is the preeminent national music education advocacy organization. Students auditioned regionally, rehearsed intensely, and performed for a large audience! Olivia was one of 240 students hailing from 45 states in the All-National Honor Ensemble Mixed Choir. For perspective, 1% of students that entered the regional audition process in California were ultimately invited to participate. This was a great honor, and we are so proud of Olivia for representing Mercy High School Burlingame!
We had a few questions for Olivia about the incredible event and her deep love of singing.
How long have you been singing?
I have been singing for as long as I can remember, but I did not begin my formal training until around fifth grade in Peninsula Girls Chorus. I love singing because it allows me to express myself and is an exhilarating feeling I cannot find anywhere else.
What was it like singing at such a prestigious event?
It was an amazing experience. I met and became friends with talented high school singers from all over the country, most of whom were on a similar musical path - extremely passionate and dedicated to singing, and those wanting to study voice in college, etc. Our director, Dr. Amanda Quist of the world renowned Westminster Choir College, encouraged all of us to continue pursuing music wherever life takes us and to never stop singing. I loved every second of the experience and wish I could do it all over again. My experience singing at All-State and Nationals was not only uplifting and meaningful, but it gave me the confidence to continue pursuing my passion for singing. I felt truly honored to be part of this highly selective choir.
Did you have a favorite song from the repertoire?
I loved every song, but if I had to pick one, I would choose "Great God Almighty" arranged by Stacey Gibbs. It was the best (in my opinion) and the final piece in the program. The timing for the rhythm was difficult and some of the notes were extremely high for some sopranos (up to a high G #). Performing this song was very rewarding due to the challenges it posed.
What has singing taught you?
Singing has taught me patience, determination, and that everything takes practice and dedication. I have also learned good time management skills, which are very important because everything takes time and effort. Singing can be tricky because there are good days and bad days, and sometimes I get sick, which can be very frustrating. Through singing in choirs, I have learned to collaborate respectfully with others and through solo singing, I have learned about performance skills and above all, courage.
A Note from the Chair of the Board of the Directors
November 16, 2018
Dear Mercy Community,
It is with great pleasure that we announce Natalie Cirigliano Brosnan '02 has accepted our offer to be the next Head of School for Mercy High School Burlingame, starting on July 1, 2019.
Natalie is effectively coming home. She is an alumna and our former Assistant Principal for Student Life. Natalie hails from Burlingame, where she graduated from St. Catherine of Siena before attending Mercy and becoming a student athlete and valedictorian of her class.
Natalie graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology and recently earned her Ed.D in Catholic Educational Leadership with a Minor in Digital Technologies. She also holds a Master of Arts in Catholic Education Leadership - both from University of San Francisco.
After leaving her role in Mercy administration in 2015, she became the Principal of Holy Name School in San Francisco, where she was the academic and spiritual leader working with the pastor in partnership to increase and encourage the Catholicity within the school and parish community.
While at Holy Name, she served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Mercy San Francisco and this past summer served as Co-Interim Head of School. She is now Chair of the Board.
Natalie firmly believes in Mercy's mission and embedding the Critical Concerns into our curriculum and how we govern to ensure our culture and environment pays tribute to Catherine McAuley's vision. Natalie's background, skills and experience make her uniquely qualified to assume the role of Head of School and we are pleased that she will lead our exceptionally talented faculty and staff as we embark on such an exciting future.
We would also like to thank the Search Committee, who is listed at the end of this announcement for their tireless efforts to find our next Head of School. We were lucky to bring together such a strong group of individuals representing all of our important constituents. They were committed to ensuring our next Head of School would embody the spirit and vision of Catherine McAuley.
We are in the process of developing a transition plan, focusing on a smooth transfer of duties next year. We thank those of you who participated in the survey seeking input for the important qualifications for the next Head of School. The feedback we received will be instrumental in supporting this transition and the continued progress of the school.
As we look to the future, we would like to thank Karen Hanrahan for her leadership and we look forward to welcoming Natalie Cirigliano Brosnan home.
Bob Grassilli, Chair of the Board of Directors
Tri-School Productions' Sense & Sensibility opens this week! The Cast & Crew have been working hard for months to present their playful new adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved novel. Nine Mercy students were cast in the production, including one of the lead roles, Elinor Dashwood, being played by sophomore Mia Faillace. The story follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne—after their father's sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. Set in gossipy late 18th-century England, with a fresh female voice, the play is full of humor, emotional depth, and bold theatricality.
Below, Mia answers our questions about the 're-boot', playing an iconic character, the Tri-School Productions family, and more! Tickets are on sale now on the Tri-School productions website or here.
How is the 're-boot' different from the original?
I had gone into the role thinking it would be similar if not the same as Emma Thompson's interpretation, but as I started to discover the character more, I learned that she is quite different. I think the story as a whole has its similarities and differences, such as the gossips, which bring a lot of life to the production, and the interpretations that everyone is bringing to their roles.
What is it like playing Elinor? Can you relate to her?
Playing Elinor Dashwood has been such a privilege. She is unlike any role I have played, and I have been doing theatre since preschool. Elinor is a young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is very kept together and sensible. Unlike her sister, Marianne, she hides her feelings from everyone, and tries her best to support her sister and her family. I find it pretty easy to relate in some ways, considering high school is stressful and I'm balancing all my responsibilities. Though I can relate to some of Elinor's personality traits, I think we vary in most instances, which has made this discovery a little challenging but also more fun. I have found I relate more to Marianne.
Though the play is set in a different century, are there themes that are relevant today?
I think this show really demonstrates the struggles the women had to face in the 1800's. Though women aren't struggling with the same obstacles today, we still are struggling. I think that over the years we as Women really have proven that we are worth fighting for, so it is really empowering to play a young woman who starts to realize that and acts on it. One of my favorite scenes in the show is between Elinor and Willoughby, One of Marianne's love interests. This is one of the first times we see Elinor really step up and put a man, who has done wrong, in his place. As a teen in our day and age getting to play a woman who in her time period stand up to a man, is really eye opening and a privilege to get to bring to the Tri-School Stage.
What do you hope theater-goers will get out of the performance?
I hope that theatre-goers, not only adults, but students from other schools notice how much time and effort went into this show and that Tri-School Productions is a group of very passionate and dedicated performers. Our cast and crew care about how we present ourselves on stage which comes with being serious about our craft, and that goes without saying how much fun we have not only during rehearsals but also the actual performances.
What do you like most about being part of Tri-School Productions?
I love the dynamic of Tri-School Productions and how welcoming everyone is. In every sense it is a family, and I am so glad I found them. From the directors to the students, I have never witnessed or have been a part of something like this, and I have been doing theatre since preschool. Everyone is extremely supportive of one another and it has been a gift and privilege to be able to work alongside the amazing young women and men in the 3 Tri-School Productions that I have participated in.
This year, the Mercy community recognizes the many extraordinary women - past and present - who have changed the world through their dreams and actions.
The celebration of Mercy Week is a beloved tradition for the Mercy Burlingame community. Themed dress-up days and the Mercy Day Rally spark school spirit, while the Mercy Day Mass is an important time to gather in reflection and prayer. We will recognize the incredible example of women like Mother Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, and Mother Mary Baptist Russell, the intrepid pioneer who led a group of sisters from Ireland to San Francisco in 1854 to establish the first Mercy community on the West Coast. While September 24th marks the exact date when Catherine McAuley established the first House of Mercy in 1827 in Dublin, Ireland, this year we will commemorate Mercy Day on Friday, September 21st.
The theme of Mercy Week 2018 is "Women with a Dream", in honor of the Sisters of Mercy's Critical Concern of Women. On Wednesday, students will watch RBG, the recent documentary about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg; freshman and sophomore students will have the privilege of seeing Congresswoman Jackie Speier '68 introduce the film.
Mercy Day will also coincide with our 3rd Annual Alumnae + Friends Giving Day. We invite all alumnae to participate. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Mercy Fund, the annual giving program that helps bridge the gap between tuition and total operating expenses. Learn more about Giving Day by viewing this year's video, or support us by making an early gift on our countdown page.
Mercy is proud to participate in the #BeKind21 challenge!
The Born This Way Foundation has created a global challenge to help make kindness - to ourselves and our communities - a habit by practicing an act of kindness each day for 21 days.
We think it's a wonderful way to start the school year with a focus on kindness, positivity, and community. Coming together to reach in with reflection and reach out with action is great reminder that kindness IS mercy. Doing something for 21 consecutive days helps turn it into a habit, and we invite our community to participate in fostering a culture of compassion and wellness!
For the next 21 days, we will be posting kindness activity suggestions, and we hope you will join us! If you want to share your experiences, use the hashtag #BeKind21 ! You can also tag @mercyburlingame and @btwfoundation.
Dear Mercy Community,
After serving our school community for the last five years, Karen Hanrahan has decided to retire as Head of School in June of 2019 - at the end of the next school year.
Karen has had a storied career as a Catholic School administrator for over 30 years and is a passionate advocate of all-girl’s education.
Under Karen’s leadership, our WASC accreditation was granted for a full six years and long-range strategic planning, including plans to address long term facility needs is underway. The Class of 2018 is ready to embark on their college journey having received acceptances from Ivy League schools to private, Catholic, State and UC institutions both across the country and internationally. These young women have benefitted from small class sizes and exceptional programs, from academics to the arts and athletics. All areas of Mercy life emphasize 21st century workplace skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation, crucial for success after graduation.
Under Karen’s leadership and with a dedicated faculty and staff, our school community has come together to make Mercy a strong and vibrant environment, focusing on the potential for each young woman to grow and develop. An environment in which each girl is known, challenged and quite literally transformed during their four years here. With their dedication, Mercy girls gain the confidence to carry their passions-and their voices-into the world to make a difference in the lives of others.
The Board of Directors of Mercy High School has developed a thoughtful transition plan and will embark on a search, enlisting the support of additional outside resources to find our new Head of School. I am confident that there will be many highly qualified candidates who will be interested in this new leadership position, and it is our intention to choose Mercy’s new leader in a thoughtful manner. I shall keep you informed of our progress.
Since Catherine McAuley opened the first house of Mercy in 1827 in Ireland to serve the poor and educate young women, the Sisters of Mercy have continued to fulfill her vision-educating students to be women of faith, compassionate service and justice. Our students are challenged to grow in faith and use their gifts to make a difference in the lives of others. We thank Karen for her tireless devotion to Mercy High School and our cherished students as they grow into women of faith and compassion equipped to make a difference in our world.
Bob Grassilli, Chair of the Board of Directors
Mercy High School and Fusion Academy will host "Overcoming Overwhelm: Supporting the Future of Our Youth," a panel discussion with mental health and community education professionals about the pressures students face, and how we can help counteract the effects.
They will address how to encourage student resilience in the face of overwhelming pressure, and answer questions such as: 'How do we inoculate against burnout, anxiety and the academic and social pressures overwhelming our children?' and 'What behaviors and emotions can we spread to others that counter the negative feelings that engulf our students, leading to real-world health and wellness problems?'
The event will be held in Kohl Mansion at Mercy Burlingame on April 11, 2018. The panel includes psychotherapists and authors Lee Daniel Kravetz, LMFT, and Carol Langlois, PhD, and community engagement director Mary Hofstedt, Ed.M. The discussion will be moderated by Charlene Margot, M.A., a parent and community education advocate.
The event is open to the community and free to attend, but seating is limited! Reserve yours HERE.April 11 Event Schedule
6:00pm - 6:30pm l Arrival/Check-In
6:30pm - 8:00pm l Program
Please plan to arrive early for best parking and seating. Program will begin promptly at 6:30pm.
Questions? Contact Shannon LeCompte, Dean of Students, Mercy High School, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, Mercy welcomed alumnae, parents, and friends of Mercy for Career Day 2018! We had representation of a wide variety of fields, from healthcare and law enforcement to technology and financial management. The professionals hosted roundtables with three different student groups, to allow the students to engage in a range of career discussions.
Topics included day-to-day activities of the job, including highlights and hardships of their field and specific roles. They discussed paths to get in to a certain field, and the personal strengths, passions, and skills required to succeed. The roundtables wrapped up with insider advice for interested students and Q&A.
We are grateful to our community for participating in Career Day and exposing Mercy students to different potential paths!
Mary Louise Castillo and Eileen Horan, long time Mercy Burlingame faculty, will be presented with the Catherine McAuley Award at this year's Making A Difference Scholarship Benefit Dinner, the school's premier fundraising event. These two beloved teachers were chosen to receive the prestigious award in recognition of their commitment to the vision of Catherine McAuley and the education of young women. They have touched the lives of many with their combined 98 years as Mercy educators.
The Making A Difference event has drawn attention and strong support to Mercy's scholarship giving campaign, which has raised more than $2.2 million—with nearly 1,200 donors and 4,500 gifts—since its inception in 2004. The need remains urgent, with 35% of Mercy students receiving some form of financial aid in this 2017-2018 school year.
The Benefit will take place at 6 p.m. on April 25th, at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront. Visit our webpage to buy tickets, sponsor the event, or give to Making A Difference.
Tri-School Productions debuts West Side Story, starring students from Mercy, Notre Dame and Serra. The beloved musical has inspired generations of theater fans with its heart-wrenching tale of star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony, based on a Romeo and Juliet theme that has stood the test of time since its opening in 1957.
"Tri-School Productions is immeasurably proud to bring West Side Story to our community this spring," says Drama Director and Production Manager Lawrence Long. "The show is a wonderful representation of the good and bad in life. The issues that society faced half a century ago are still relevant. Our students have worked tirelessly on this iconic show, bringing thrilling dance numbers, gorgeous singing and a story that resonates with social issues as relevant today as when it was first performed. It's a tragic story that's told with so much beauty."
The audience will enjoy captivating sets, colorful costumes and unforgettable music and dance numbers as the Sharks and Jets dance their way through heated turf wars fueled by immigration and racism.
"The opportunity to play this lead role during my senior year of high school is amazing," says senior Holden Boger, who plays Tony. "The role of Tony is very emotionally intense, and it requires a lot of hard work and contemplation of character choices and motivations. The story centers on this idea that we all have something in common. It's a challenge I am thrilled to take on!"
Mercy senior Isabella Torre plays the role of Maria, a hopeless romantic who falls in love with Tony, regarded by some closest to her as the enemy. Torre notes how different Maria is in Act II, compared to Act I. "Through the life experiences and events that unfold, she goes from being young and naive to suddenly very mature," she explains.
NDB sophomore Sophia Bouzid, who plays the feisty Anita, has a lot to manage, particularly with the powerful music and dance number, "America." "It's all about breath control," she says. "All while presenting the intense emotions that my character experiences."
Director and Choreographer Gennine Harrington calls the show "a choreographer's dream."
"It's awesome to have teens playing teens," she adds. "In the end, the audience is left with a powerful message–hate kills and love wins."
The show will be presented in Serra's Gellert Auditorium March 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 7:30pm; and at 2pm March 18. CLICK HERE for tickets!
This past week, Mercy High School had CodeHS come to visit and work with the AP Computer science classes. Their teacher, Mrs. Pat Bradley stated that, "Girls participated in an hour of code"and at the end of class, they had each created an app for their cell phones. Which was very cool!"
CodeHS is a comprehensive teaching platform that helps high schools teach computer science. They believe that coding is a foundation skill, just like reading and writing. Their mission is to empower all students to meaningfully impact the future by learning to code.
This past week, Mother's of Mercy Alumnae, MOMA's returned to Mercy for a pre-Christmas wine and cheese get together!
For many this was their first time back to Mercy since their daughter's graduation. They were able to reconnect with old friends, and everyone enjoyed seeing the mansion decorated for Christmas!
Mercy was happy to get these wonderful Mom's back on campus and look forward to making this a yearly event!
This past week, Mercy was pleased to welcome author Emily Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins, sometimes uses the pen name E. Lockhart, is an American writer of children's picture books, young-adult novels, and adult fiction. She is known best for the Ruby Oliver quartet (which begins with The Boyfriend List), The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and the New York Times bestseller, We Were Liars. Her newest book, Genuine Fraud, is a psychological thriller about the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the Judge.
Ms. Jenkins spoke to the girls about how she became an author and how in her case, she usually has 15-20 drafts prior to the books actual publication! She explained that in each draft, she re-arranges rewrites and continually works to perfect her story. She asked the girls if any of them ever felt "blocked" when writing, and explained to the girls that when she writes, she first creates image boards, that help her to get the image and mood of the scene or character that she wants to convey. It is this detail, and layer upon layer of influence, driven by the desire to explore an active emotion that ultimately helps her to craft the story.
Mercy girls enjoyed speaking with Ms. Jenkins and many stopped by for and picked up a signed copy of Genuine Fraud.
Given as College Scholarships to the Class of 2017
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Play more than one Sport
Mercy Sister schools globally
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"Best of Both Worlds"