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Lessons Learned - Meet us in the Good

Building a More Equitable Community

Celebrating ND's 170th Graduating Class

Meet Our 2021 Women of Impact Honorees

Lessons Learned - Meet us in the Good Mary Beth Riley, Head of School COVID19 = Elephants + Calvary + Alps In June 2020, I sat with the leadership team in the ‘war room’ (aka Learning Commons). With masks on and eight feet of distance between tables, we began to plot strategies for, what felt like, bringing a fleet of elephants and tired cavalry over mountain passes, down into valleys and up again only to succumb to surprise attacks and unknown terrain. It was a modern-day war room and we each had our own white board and pens for strategies, diagrams and counter-strategies. Taking elephants and tired foot soldiers up, over and through the Alps was a new challenge for us. The Notre Dame leadership team proved to be innovative problem solvers at every turn. A bold group of teachers hitched their wagons up and pioneered new ways to teach and honed a hybrid model that effectively reached students at home and in the classroom. Campus operations were built and rebuilt to meet new needs again and again. With no in-person events, outreach to the community went virtual and the ND network expanded exponentially. No one gave up and good things happened. So many times, as the leader, I could not see those coming from behind or on the sides. I only caught the first couple of elephants as we slogged forward. And this is where my metaphor shifts, because Hannibal did not have St. Julie’s spirit at his side, whereas I did. The war room of June sent us marching forward with common purpose and faith. In our darkest moments, it was St. Julie and faith that brought us to June and deep gratitude at reaching the end of the trek. We may not have fared well in the Punic Wars, but we conquered the pandemic and are now ready for a new year!

Katie Zazueta, Chair of the Notre Dame Board of Directors The Power of Energy & Optimism As I led the Notre Dame Board of Directors in 2020-2021, I knew I needed to provide the highest level of engagement to bring the board members into the work of the year on Zoom. I realized early on if we ALL brought our energy and dedication, we could accomplish more and leave the sessions feeling connected to the outcomes and each other. It meant I could not have a “down” day. We all needed to show up in a big way to be seen, heard and effectively accomplish the goals of every meeting. I have always had high energy and openness to draw people into the story or the assignment, but COVID tested this ability. While the topics and content could be messy and complicated, I tried to connect with each member personally on Zoom or through email outreach, so we were able to build a deeper bond than we may have accomplished in person. We all made the most of the Zoom NDSJ BOD year, and I feel blessed that the members trusted me to lead them through this challenging time.

Susana Garcia, Assistant Head of School Beyond the Pivot At Notre Dame, we have been using the term "pivot" and responding to new needs on a daily basis. Our proclivity for pivoting was prompted by a dynamic educational landscape layered with ever-shifting COVID guidelines. Pivot in the moment or become irrelevant. The leadership lesson was to go beyond that short-term response by leveraging this period of change as an opportunity to make long-term changes. In admissions, we seized this opportunity to rethink our application requirements and move toward a more equitable and holistic process. We shifted to test-optional admissions and are the first Catholic high school in the diocese to implement this approach. Applicants could choose to either take the High School Placement Test or to submit an academic sample of their work. We also met with every applicant to have conversations about the things that matter in their lives. These changes are more closely aligned with our school's commitment to dismantle bias, to prioritize student wellness and choice, and to see our students holistically. As leaders, we need to interrogate what has been, and what is, in order to be agents of positive and meaningful long-term change. We need to move beyond the pivot.

John Bracco, Director of Campus Operations & Co-Curricular Programs Co-Curriculars Get Creative Notre Dame's co-curricular program directors, determined to provide students with opportunities to participate in these important aspects of high school, did some creative solution-finding. Here are just two examples. ● The Janksters conceived and built a robot and competed virtually, winning the Industrial Design Award. ND alum Tamara Kawa ’16 was also recognized as the Silicon Valley Regional Volunteer of the Year. ● Dance, theater and music practiced and rehearsed virtually and quickly made the jump to socially-distanced outdoor rehearsals and performances, recording their work to share with the community. Their performance videos were widely shared, reaching family and friends around the world.

Leah Schnoor, Executive Director of Advancement Women of Impact Goes International Women of Impact went international this year. With guests able to join us from the convenience of their home, the audience expanded to include guests from Europe, South America and across the United States. Our signature event, Women of Impact, not only celebrates the impact that women make on the world, it reminds us of why it is so important to continue our work of educating young women. It aligns perfectly with our mission. Until this year, it was a once-a-year opportunity to meet and learn from women who are rarely recognized for their contributions. But with the pandemic we had the opportunity to develop a monthly virtual series to continue those conversations with women of impact. Over the last year, our audience has grown and expanded to include a national and international audience who join us monthly to learn about women’s leadership.



Eran DeSilva, Director of Teaching & Learning Life-Long Learning Isn't Just for Students One of Notre Dame's graduation outcomes is for our students to be lifelong learners and develop a growth mindset. This is also a call for leaders. In my work with students, I tell them we co-construct our learning. This means I recognize that they bring experiences and perspectives that are important in our work together. As a leader, I recognize that I am learning from those that I serve - students, teachers and parents. Each group has a voice and ideas to contribute that shape and enrich our Notre Dame educational experience. In this last year, I have learned so much from our students about justice and resilience. I have learned about flexibility and innovation from teachers. I have learned about trust and partnership from our parents. As we go into our new year, we will all be learning to be in community again and striving to create an inclusive, supportive environment in which to thrive.

Kathleen Quiazon, Director of Mission & Ministry Bridging the Distance As the weeks of COVID grew into months, ND prioritized loving care for students, engaged in relentless work for social change and took steps to sustain our network. These guiding principles anchored us as the Notre Dame charism came to life in digital translation. ● Campus ministry and counseling hosted virtual support spaces for students, whether for listening and dialogue on inclusion and belonging, or reflection and prayer on the concerns of the world. ● Student leadership groups organized virtual service experiences and sessions with speakers who spotlighted critical justice and equity issues. ● Students, faculty and staff created community spaces with Sisters of Notre Dame and ND educators from five continents to learn from one another and keep us close. I doubt St. Julie could have imagined the virtual relationships possible. And yet, the connections we made ground us in who we are. The distance moves us to draw closer to one another and propels us to bridge the gap when we act for peace and justice for all our neighbors.

Bob Mason, Chief Financial Officer Resourcefulness & Partnerships

Although the last thing an accountant wants to do is diverge from the financial plan, the overwhelming financial need of our families, coupled with the need to purchase equipment that would allow for our comprehensive remote learning plan, required a new level of juggling, resourcefulness and partnering with our donors. Our IT staff scoured countless websites for equipment that was not readily available, purchasing what was needed from multiple sources to meet the technology needs of faculty in both remote and hybrid scenarios. Meeting the financial needs of our families, many of whom lost their sources of income, could not have been possible without our ND community who opened their hearts and their checkbooks. We thank our partners for joining with us to meet the needs of our students. Your generosity, coupled with our creativity, made it possible. The new partnerships and lessons in resourcefulness will serve us well as we move forward.

Building a More Equitable Community In the summer of 2020, Notre Dame began work on building a more diverse, equitable and heart-centered learning community and committed to ensuring that we live out the social justice lessons and values we teach and hold at the heart of our mission with greater clarity and strength. Led by Jessica Pierce '02, founder of Piece by Piece Strategies, the school-wide Race, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) project began with multiple training sessions for students, faculty, staff and the board of directors. Jessica has been a trainer and strategist for 15 years and has trained more than 20,000 people across the Jessica Pierce '02, activist, civil rights leader and United States and abroad, working to build more equitable founder of Piece by Piece Strategies spaces and doing concrete work that changes people's lives. "It's important that we start with training to ensure we have a shared alignment to address the changes we want to see," explains Jessica. In addition to conducting extensive training across the ND community, Jessica, in conjunction with a task force, developed a grievance process that is in place and regularly monitored. We will continue our REDI work with faculty, staff and students in 2021-2022. "We will be looking at where we are, individually, in our understanding of REDI issues and developing resources to help everyone move forward," says Jessica. Notre Dame faculty and staff also took initiative to help move the institution forward in their understanding of REDI issues. Teachers Kari Climer (English) and Deidre Savino (religious studies) launched an internal group of the national BARWE (Building Anti-Racist White Educators) program with faculty and staff. "The group's purpose is to serve as an inquiry-based discussion group where white educators can examine their own identity and come up with tools for how to keep anti-racism consistently on the front burner of our teaching practice," shared Kari. "The guiding principle is that it should not just be up to teachers of color to do this work in schools; white colleagues must also be responsible for dismantling racism and implicit bias in schools." "We will be bringing race, gender and educational equity statements, as well as policy recommendations, to the community" shared Jessica. "Our work will continue to ensure that it is clear from the onset that Notre Dame is an equitable and safe place for everyone. I am committed to walking alongside Notre Dame in this work." Having interviewed Jessica Pierce for Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Crown & Shield, Madeleine Lloyd '23 shared her thoughts on the impact of student training sessions. "Throughout her career, Jessica Pierce has truly upheld Notre Dame’s graduation outcomes of being a community leader and a justice advocate. She has worked on engaging youth, encouraging them to vote, and she has helped fight the systemic racism facing many members of the BIPOC community through her organization and advocacy. Her immense impact on youth engagement and justice has been immeasurable, and she continues to fight for justice in our world. Jessica Pierce truly is an inspiration to us all."



Celebrating ND's 170th Graduating Class Notre Dame High School celebrated a Baccalaureate Mass in honor of the Class of 2021 Red & Teal Tigers, our 170th graduating class, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in the heart of our downtown San Jose neighborhood on June 3. Due to COVID restrictions the event was only attended by graduates, faculty and staff and was livestreamed for audiences at home.

Shruthisri Ravishankar '21

The service, presided over by Father Joe Kim, included student reflections. “A few months back, I would have never imagined us sitting together, reflecting on our experiences and growth over these last four years,” shared Shruthisri Ravishankar '21. “We have seen significant changes happen overnight: cities were locked down, people lost their jobs, systemic inequalities rose, and our loved ones were suddenly at risk of contracting a frightening disease. In each of these difficult moments, I struggled to stay optimistic, but as St. Julie said, 'We must have courage in the century we live in.' We are not new to difficult times; we have rallied and fought against gun violence, hate crimes, climate change and much more. And as we worked in solidarity to voice our perspectives on causes close to our hearts, we never stopped caring for each other. We sent messages to our friends, asking, 'Are you feeling ok?' or 'Can I support you in any way?' We compiled resources on our social media accounts or organized virtual events to build an inclusive community and take part in interfaith dialogue. In moments where our future seemed so uncertain, we made sure to stay hopeful by engaging empathetically with the world around us.” Shruthisri will be attending Cornell University to study industrial and labor relations. On Saturday, June 5, the graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. But this traditional event was far from traditional. Held on the Notre Dame campus in Pardini Park, steps away from the Center for Women's Leadership and attended by a limited number of guests wearing masks and social-distancing, it was unique and quite a departure from the 15 years of commencement exercises held at the California Theatre and last year's all-virtual event. Students were invited to wear acknowledgment stoles to represent the communal and ancestral legacy that precedes them, highlighting their own membership in a racial or ethnic community that is historically under-represented among graduates in our nation and our learning community.

Ojaswee Chaudhary '21, who was chosen by her classmates to receive the Julie Billiart Award for her compassion, caring, service, respect and love of her community, noted the significance of graduating on campus. "Some may call this event an ending, or maybe a commencement, but I would say it feels more like a homecoming. During this past week of our graduation events, the spirit of the room has been energizing in an indescribable way. We are back in the familiar surroundings of our classmates, our campus, and our faculty, and all the memories that we have experienced here are rushing back, just in time to accompany us as we walk onto this stage when our names are called." Ojaswee will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study computer science. Salutatory Speaker Ojaswee Chaudhary '21 Julie Tran '21 was chosen to represent the 44 members of the Class of 2021 who earned Highest Academic Honors and deliver the valedictory address. She noted that not only were the Tigers' graduation events unique, their high school journey had been one to remember. "Our freshman orientation coincided with a historic total solar eclipse and, in the years since, we’ve continued to be a part of history. A lot of it has been downright ugly. We’ve experienced and seen intense political turmoil, violence and natural disasters. We’ve seen discrimination and hate rooted in ignorance and intertwining systems of oppression. But, through it all, we were resilient. We furthered our education, became spiritual seekers, led efforts for change and demanded justice as foundations of our grit and unstoppable drive to act as people of impact. Through our pursuit of the unknown and empowering resolve to always do what is Valedictory Speaker Julie Tran '21 right, we have explored and found new callings. From taking on the patriarchy to one day taking over the White House, the possibilities are endless." Julie will be attending UCLA in the fall where she will major in molecular, cell and developmental biology.

All events were live-streamed for audiences at home and can be viewed at



Seniors were invited to show their college sweatshirt pride as they prepare for the transition to learning beyond Notre Dame. Join us in celebrating these students as well as all members of the Class of 2021! View the complete list of college acceptances and read about their individual stories, dreams and plans for college at

The Class of 2021 Teal & Red Tigers Notre Dame’s 170th class of graduates earned accolades and were rewarded for their four years of hard work in academics, co-curriculars and the community.

Students in the

CLASS of 2021 were offered just under




in scholarships

Most popular majors Chemistry/Biology/ BioChem Psychology/Cognitive Science/Neuroscience


of seniors who applied to colleges and universities were accepted


Where they're going

Computer Science Nursing Interdisciplinary Studies


students in the class are First Generation to College


of students are matriculating to colleges and universities listed in Princeton Review’s List of Best Colleges

Engineering Arts (Visual/Performing) Environmental Science





college within California

52% Private 27% UC/CSU 13% Out-of-State Public 3% Community College 3% International 2% Gap Year




out-of-state colleges

"Graduating" with the Class of 2021

Four beloved educators also "graduated" from Notre Dame after many years of service to Notre Dame students. We wish them well on their retirement and the next chapter of their lives!

Jan Tupaj-Farthing served as Catherine Pandori was ND's vice principal of academics 'director of fun' for 11 years for 27 years. and with ND for 14.

Gail Tifft served as registrar and been the 'voice' of ND for 28 years.

Cheryl Oreglia taught in the religious studies department for 12 years.

Confirmed in Catholic Faith The Notre Dame community proudly celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation on Friday, May 21, 2021, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. Most Reverend Oscar Cantύ, Bishop of San Jose, presided over the mass and was assisted by Mr. Greg Ortiz, deacon and father to Angela ’21 and Viviana ’23. Notre Dame celebrates confirmation every two years, but this year’s celebration was especially meaningful since it was the first time Notre Dame students, faculty and staff were back in the Cathedral for services. For the forty candidates, the sacrament offers the completion of the Catholic sacraments of initiation. According to their confirmation teacher, Steve Herrera, their preparation was "highlighted by an introduction to the meaning of confirmation in terms of being a faithful Christian who prays and practices social justice and advocacy. The class also highlighted several role models of faith including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, both of whom had a faith that practiced justice." Mr. Herrera also emphasized that "students learned about how confirmation and the Eucharist were calls to holiness through a faith that does justice and promotes the common good." The liturgy marked the school's return to in-person liturgies at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, Notre Dame's downtown place of worship. Students were joined by their sponsors and families for the mass. At home, more than 600 viewers joined by YouTube livestream and recording to pray in solidarity with our confirmands.

Prom 2021 -Dancing in the Streets

In any non-pandemic year, Notre Dame's 2021 prom would have been over-the-top with trolley rides, horse-drawn carriages, dancing in the street and a private candy shop! But after 14 months of pandemic restrictions and seclusion, Starlight Soiree was truly monumental. "You know, when you're younger you kind of dream of these moments," said Lauren Jue '21. "We're just so grateful that the school was able to put something together for us," added Maddi Wong '21. Held at History Park San Jose, the event was attended by more than 200 juniors and seniors. Students were required to wear a mask, complete a health screening form, show proof of a negative COVID test and have their temperature taken. Having no boys allowed didn't dampen the fun as students made their own corsages, played lawn games, snacked on tasty treats and danced the night away! Catherine Pandori, Notre Dame's director of student leadership and activities, lovingly known as the 'director of fun,' conceived and orchestrated this massive endeavour, working through logistical challenges and COVID restrictions, determined to bring a bit of joy and laughter to the students who have endured more than a year of isolation and seclusion. At the end of the night, the students crowned Ms. Pandori prom queen, an honor truly earned and deserved!



15th Annual ND Reads From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of non-fiction―a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us. As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted―no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape―she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance. “What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts. Aimee Nezhukumatathil was born in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Ohio State University where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in poetry and creative non-fiction and was then awarded the Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at UW-Madison. After teaching in western New York for fifteen years, Nezhukumatathil was awarded the Grisham Writer-in-Residence in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program for 2016-17. She is currently a professor of English and teaches environmental literature and poetry writing in the MFA program of the University of Mississippi.

SAVE THE DATE New York Times best-selling author and award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil will join us for a community event on:

November 17, 2021 7:00pm Don't miss this opportunity to hear the inside story behind the book and meet the author.


l a u n n 13 A th

Notre Dame continues a commitment to celebrating women's leadership. Join us in recognizing our 2021 honorees at the Women of Impact event on October 15, 2021. Also be sure to check our website ( for a complete line-up of the 2021 Women of Impact Speaker Series, which will begin on September 16, 2021, with a conversation celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Aparna Bawa


parna Bawa serves as chief operating officer and interim chief legal officer for Zoom where she brings expertise in building infrastructure for rapidly growing technology companies. Prior to Zoom, she was senior vice president and general counsel for Magento Commerce, the leading global provider of ecommerce software solutions. With a strong background in strategy and operations, corporate law, technology investment banking and SaaS platforms, Aparna brings a unique perspective, making critical and practical business decisions every day as she incorporates her operational experience and deep knowledge of publicly listed corporate boards. Aparna earned a BA in accounting at Marquette University and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law.

Dr. Camille Broussard ‘04 Robinson


r. Camille Robinson is a public health-trained pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine and addiction medicine committed to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable youth by eradicating health disparities and health inequities. She currently staffs an adolescent and young adult medicine clinic at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego providing primary and sub-specialty care to military dependents. She also serves as an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University and UC San Diego. Dr. Robinson is committed to training the next generation of pediatricians and is involved in mentoring numerous pediatric fellows, residents and medical students. She holds degrees from Howard University, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.




CLASS NOTES Suzanne Donovan '53 Cortese & Rosanne Cortese '76 Compitello (1) recently toured the Center for Women’s Leadership and delighted in the realization of this vision for Notre Dame, along with the resources it offers for students and teachers.

Vickie Gaitan '62 Reed received the

Pius X 35-year award from the Diocese of San Jose, for 35 years of teaching young people about Jesus and his love for them. The Class of 1969 (2) Panthers Book Club has been meeting for 17 years. They recently met in person in Berkeley to celebrate that they have all been vaccinated.

Alicia Foley '89 Shevetone (3)

started DINK (Dual Income No Kids) with her husband in 2017 and just launched her first cookbook.

Melinda Chacon '98 led a special

chimichanga cooking demonstration for 100 alums, faculty, staff and friends in honor of Estela Flores (4) . Estela worked at ND for more than 20 years while putting her daughters through school. Donations from this event benefited Sister Circles and will support an incoming student.

Matilde Miranda '09 (5) graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in molecular biology with a focus in cell and developmental biology. She will be starting a postdoctoral research position

in Tokyo, Japan this summer, studying the mitochondrial biodynamics in inflammation that lead to premature skin aging.

Kitty Lan '13 (6)

joins the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office this summer. Kitty credits her time at Notre Dame with giving her a path to attend Harvard Law School. After graduating from ND, Kitty graduated in three years from Georgetown University prior to working for McKinsey in New York City and Bain Capital Private Equity.

Sarah Miyahara '14 (7) completed

her first year of graduate school at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and accepted a position with Legacy International as the logistics coordinator for the Tech Girls program.

JJ Mount '15

graduated with a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Oregon State University and plans to teach religion. Since graduating from ND, her faith has grown

even stronger and she wants to be a light for others.

Rachel Schneider '15 (8) will start

an internship this summer with the appeals, writs and trials section of the California Attorney General’s Office in San Francisco, writing response briefs to criminal appeals under the supervision of practicing deputy attorney generals. She will also do moot courts on some of her briefs in order to refine her appellate oral argument skills.

Yasmen Lopez '16 (9) graduated

from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. She is now working at Jabil as an industrial engineer.

Michelle Ramirez '16 (10) graduated

in 2020 from Scripp’s College and is now working with Bay Area Women's Sport Initiative as an athlete leader and community specialist

Avery Wagoner '16 (11)

graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor's degree in communication studies.

Shikha Nischal '17 (12) graduated

Summa Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in public service and community engagement. She is now a registered behavior technician at Kyo.

Caroline M. ChmielewskiAnders '17 (13)

graduated from Seattle University Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in nursing and is working as a registered nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Swedish Health Services.

Natalie Cornelison '17 (14) graduated

Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in exercise science and pre-health professions from Creighton University. In August, Natalie will begin podiatric medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California with plans to become a podiatric physician and surgeon.

















NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION 596 S. 2nd Street San Jose, CA 95112 Address service requested


Be on the lookout for more information about the following class reunions.


October 2-3, 2021 @ Notre Dame


October 2-3, 2021 @ Notre Dame


September 11, 2021 @ La Rinconada Country Club


October 2-3, 2021 @ Notre Dame


Profile for Notre Dame San Jose

Notre Notes Summer 2021 Edition  

Learn about Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose.

Notre Notes Summer 2021 Edition  

Learn about Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose.

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