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the mercy distinction

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.

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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.



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Mercy Senior Wins Youth of the Year
Stephanie Jewett

Mercy Senior Scarlett Aramburu Alvarez '20 has earned the title of Youth of the Year for Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Club (MPBGC)! Scarlett was nominated last May, and prepared for months working with a coach and attending workshops to strengthen her public speaking skills. In November, she competed against others in her Mid-Peninsula clubhouse which included individual interviews with a panel of eight judges and ultimately giving a speech to a packed audience about an issue she felt needed addressing in her community. 

An active member of the Boys & Girls Club since 7th grade, Scarlett's participation has evolved as she took on more of a leadership role. In middle school, her Torch Club activities included event planning for Halloween haunts and Thanksgiving parties, organizing Christmas gifts for members, and designing the Teen Center. "Now, I have a higher leadership role in the club and volunteer in the broader community, organizing clean-up projects in different cities and helping to design other teen centers," she says. 

Over the years, Scarlett's experiences at Mercy have influenced the way she views service to her community she says, encouraging her to be intrinsically motivated and acknowledge the worth of time. "It is important to give back to the community that holds you up and that you represent." 

Scarlett is also motivated to grow as a leader through her involvement with Junior Statesmen of America, a club at Mercy. Finding her voice and becoming comfortable making her opinions heard has helped her encourage fellow students to express their opinions during meetings or through participation in events like the student-organized Gun Control rally.

"Scarlett is an active community member and leader on our campus. She has been a leader of JSA and represented Mercy at their State Conferences. We are so proud of the work she has done at our school and in the broader peninsula community," says Claire Rietmann-Grout, Assistant Head of School for Student Life at Mercy.

As a graduating Senior, Scarlett is excited to see what her future holds; "It's time to put myself in new situations where I can apply the knowledge I gained at Mercy in order to create new opportunities and experiences!"

The Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year program continues beyond the Clubhouse level to Regionals and ultimately, Nationals. Regardless of the extent of her future participation, Scarlett is grateful for the opportunity to hone her public speaking skills and for the mentorship and recognition she has received. 

Photo by Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Club

Alumna Athlete Spotlight for National Girls & Women in Sports Day!
Stephanie Jewett

It's National Girls & Women in Sports Day! Since its inception in 1987, National Girls & Women in Sports Day has offered an opportunity to recognize the influence of sports participation for girls, acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, and honor the progress and continuing struggle for equality for women in sports. Mercy recognizes the benefits and skills that athletic participation brings to our students including confidence, resilience, leadership, and collaboration. 

Sara Bermudez '18, a star soccer player at Mercy, is now a sophomore and starting defensive midfielder at Brown University. She recently finished her 2nd season with the Bears, where they had a historic run in the women's soccer program (read more here). She talked with us about the transition to collegiate-level athletics and the impact soccer has had on her life. 

Sara Bermudez '18 pictured holding the Ivy League trophy they won this year!

How was last year's transition to college and collegiate-level soccer? Was it as you'd anticipated?
It was an exciting experience, one that I had been anticipating since I was a sophomore in high school. However, it was much more difficult than I expected. Adapting to collegiate-level soccer took patience and discipline. I had to trust my coaches, become more mentally tough, and accept the physical demands. I realized my first year was going to be more about growth and gaining experience than accomplishments. As for transitioning into the academics and the social scene of Brown I absolutely loved it. I loved the freedom of choosing my classes and the excitement of meeting individuals from all over the country and world. I still stop to take it all in sometimes when I am walking around campus. 

Now in your 2nd year, do you feel that you've found your stride in balancing sports and academics? 
Absolutely. I have found my major and the realm of what I want to study. School is much more enjoyable now because I got the hang of what I need to succeed, like my optimal study spot and time management. I feel more confident in reaching out for help as well from professors, teaching assistants, and deans. I earned a starting spot as a defensive midfielder this year and was able to lead my team to the second round of the NCAAs. Compared to my first year, I was much more capable of balancing school and sports, mainly because I had a year of experience under my belt and I knew what to expect and how to better take care of myself. 


What are the top 3 things you love about playing at the collegiate level?

  1. I love representing my university. I am proud to attend Brown. It is so much deeper than just myself. I am there for my family and every teacher, friend, mentor, and teammate who helped me get here. When I put my jersey on I am reminded of why I put myself through adversity in collegiate-level sports, which makes success that much more rewarding. 
  2. Pregame nerves. I have learned to love the nerves. Before every game, I am very serious and zoned in. I keep headphones in and my head down because it helps me process the anxiety I get before games. Once I get outside for warm-up and touch a soccer ball I am brought back down to reality. The anxiety then becomes adrenaline and I am ready. 
  3. It has made me stronger in every aspect of my life. I have pushed myself in ways I never imagined. Through injuries, through failures, in fitness tests, my body always amazes me with what it can handle - with what I can handle. As expectations increase, so do the demands. But going through it once and coming out okay, in the end, makes the next time easier. I have learned that mentality is so important. What I accomplish in sports and the ways I get stronger reflects in everything else I do. 


How did Mercy prepare you for the challenges and rewards of being an athlete at an Ivy League school? 
What I put in at Mercy I got out. The same holds true with where I am now. The teachers I was fortunate to have at Mercy have had a strong influence in shaping me into the person I am today. I owe it to their guidance for my ability to take advantage of and keep up with being at an Ivy League School. Mercy has prepared me to maintain a level head through the highs and lows of being an athlete at an Ivy League School. While Mercy instilled in me the value of being independent, it reinforced lifting others as I climb and staying in touch with where my journey began. It is why I enjoy coming back and talking about my experiences with current Mercy students.

Tri-School Productions presents Lord of the Flies
Stephanie Jewett

Lord of the Flies

When a plane crashes on a remote island, a group of students are the sole survivors. From the prophetic and virtuous, to the lovable and brutish, each attempts to establish control as the reality of their situation sets in. The conflicts that arise throughout the story reveal both the students' capacity for empathy and hope, as well as illuminating the darkest corners of the human spirit. Ideas of community, leadership, and the rule of law are called into question as the characters decide who has a right to power, why, and what the consequences of the acquisition of power may be.

The struggle to find a way of existing in a community with no fixed boundaries invites the audience to evaluate the concepts involved in social and political constructs and moral frameworks.

Presented with Two Casts

This world-famous novel was written solely about boys. But almost 70 years later, with a greater understanding of the equal nature of all people, Director Lawrence Long and the Tri-School Productions casts feel that using both single-gender casts give us equal yet distinct impressions of modern society as a whole. 

Before jumping in to rehearsals, Long asked his cast to consider the origins of perceived differences between males and females as they bring the show to life, "What needs to happen for modern audiences to stop noticing our differences and see us all only as human?" The show's cast and crew will encourage the audience to explore with them: When you take away social pressures and expectations, at what point does it not become a story about boys or girls, but about all of us? 

Mercy is well represented with 19 Mercy Girls in the cast and crew. Don't miss the opportunity to see this unique and compelling show!

Female Cast: October 26 & November 2 • 7:30pm

Male Cast: October 25 & November 1 • 7:30pm

Gellert Auditorium, Junipero Serra High School

Tickets are on sale now! Buy them HERE.

ARC Program Unites Mercy Departments in Holistic Approach to Mental Heath
Stephanie Jewett

Mercy strives to support our students and community by raising awareness about mental health and providing resources to directly and indirectly help overcome challenges. Nicholas Smith with the Catholic San Francisco sat down with Lauren Conklin - Assistant Head of School for Academics, Joy Phillips - Wellness Counselor, and Sandy Flaherty - Director of Catholic Identity and Religion Teacher to discuss a new initiative called the ARC Program. The program is a collaboration between departments marking a united effort to care for the whole student and advocate for their well-being. Read the full article here!

(Photo by Nicholas Wolfram Smith/Catholic San Francisco)

Catholic SF Interviews Ms. Cirigliano Brosnan About Education's 'New Realities'
Stephanie Jewett

Mercy's Head of School Natalie Cirigliano Brosnan '02 Ed.D. was interviewed by Christina Gray of The Catholic San Francisco about her return to Mercy Burlingame and the changing social and emotional pressures that teens face today. They discussed the "new realities" faced by educational institutions and the students they serve, from active shooter drills to wellness counseling.

In case you missed the print feature, you can read the full article on The Catholic's website HERE

Mercy Installs Peace Pole on Campus
Stephanie Jewett

Today’s installation of Mercy’s Peace Pole was the culmination of activities started by the Heritage Club in 2015. Its dedication was combined with a Prayer Service focused on the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concern of non-violence. 

A Peace Pole is an international symbol and monument to peace. The pole has the words “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in different languages on each side. The Peace Pole Project was an initiative of The World Peace Prayer Society, an international non-profit organization dedicated to uniting the hearts of humanity through the universal message of peace. The Project transcends race, religion and politics to spread the message of peace. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 Peace Poles around the world. 

The Mercy Heritage Club read, “As we dedicate this Peace Pole today we stand with all those within the human family who work and pray for peace.  May we be women and men of peace who sow love and understanding, speak for mercy and compassion and work for justice and the dignity of all people.” 

The Wedding Singer Electrifies the Tri-School Productions Stage
Stephanie Jewett

We're gonna party like it's 1985! Tri-School Productions' The Wedding Singer enters its final weekend and has been delighting audiences of all ages. Based on the hit Adam Sandler movie, The Wedding Singer takes us back to a time when hair was big, greed was good, collars were up and a wedding singer might just be the coolest guy in the room. The cast and crew include many Mercy Girls, with the role of Julia played by junior Klara La Guardia '20. We sat down with Klara to talk about playing Julia, her musical theater career, and the Tri-School Productions family. Tickets are on sale now for April 5th and 6th at 7:30pm on the Tri-School Productions website HERE. Don't miss this show!

Had you seen the Wedding Singer (movie)? How does this production compare?

I actually hadn't seen the movie until I was cast as Julia. I held off seeing it because I didn't want to be swayed by Drew Barrymore's interpretation. There are some differences, but it is of course the same story. For example, we couldn't do the famous scene of Sam's limo-driving audition on the stage!

What was your first impression of Julia?

My first impression was that she is very selfless. She tends to put the feelings of others before her own, and take care of other people's needs. Even when she starts to realize that she has feelings for Robbie, she stays with Glen and even sets Robbie up with her friend Holly. She is a hopeless romantic too, which is sweet and fun to play. She is a dreamer and loves to make her friends happy. 

It's really fun getting to play Julia. I see some similarities between us - I'm also kind of a romantic, and I have a tendency to want to please people. But I do recognize that Julia doesn't stand up for herself as much as she should. I try to do that more. I always try to take away something from all the roles that I play. People say that you end up putting a lot of yourself into the characters you play, but it's also easy to incorporate the positive traits of my characters into myself. 

How long have you been acting/singing?

I started acting when I was 4 years old, and taking voice lessons when I was 8. But I've know since I was 3 that this was something that I wanted to do. I went to a production of South Pacific in Half Moon Bay and afterward I turned to my mom and said, "That's what I want to do."

What was it like to be part of this Tri-School production?

I love Tri-School Productions. Everyone says it, but it really is true: Tri-School Productions is a family, and everyone cares a lot about each other. I'm so glad I found it, and so grateful to be a part of it. 

This is my 6th production with Tri-School (not counting a summer performance) and this particular show is just so fun. Our Director has been saying that the world needs more joy, and that's what this production is. I hope that people come away feeling joyful, having had a really great experience.

Teen Self-Esteem Expert Visits as Guest Speaker
Stephanie Jewett

On April 4th, Mercy will host guest speaker Dr. Carol Langlois! An expert on teen self-esteem, Dr. Carol will present to freshmen and sophomore classes on topics such as bullying, body image, and peer pressure, followed by a Q&A. Dr. Carol is a former University Associate Provost and Dean, a therapist, researcher and published author. Her play, "Girl Talk: Teen Monologue Series" shares true-life teen situations and conversation.  

Her blog contains practical information for parents, teachers, counselors and teens related to female self-esteem and empowerment. Her book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image is a compilation of interviews with teen girls on the topic of self-esteem and also offers an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem.  

Book Talk with Congresswoman Jackie Speier '68
Stephanie Jewett

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.


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