VILLA MARIA ACADEMY LOWER SCHOOL | SPRING 2020
Villa Maria Academy Lower School Mission statement Energized by the IHM Charism of love, creative hope, and fidelity, Villa Maria Academy empowers young girls for spiritual and moral development, academic excellence, leadership and service within a Catholic, private learning community.
Dear friends of Villa Maria Academy, The IHM Charism of love, creative hope, and fidelity is best shared through and in our relationships. We know this to be true at Villa Maria. Our daily interactions form bonds which speak of steadfast love, unwavering hope, and enduring fidelity. We proudly introduce you to our inaugural spring publication, Villa Connections. Knowing that our connections to one another are vital to the manifestation of the IHM Charism and the continuation of the mission of Villa Maria, we bring you stories from the past and the present to help you renew your sense of belonging to the Villa family and of being part of something greater than yourself. Our current situation could give us the opportunity for anxiety and worry. Here at Villa, we live in hope! When our building closed, Villa Maria responded quickly to the educational needs of our students. Our distance learning program began on March 17th while most private and public schools in our area were collecting resources and training faculty. Thanks to the generosity you have shown us in the past, Villa Maria was well equipped with the necessary technology, learning platform resources, and professional development to engage our students right away. As one parent put it, â€œVilla did not skip a beat.â€? We are grateful to you for being such an integral part of our preparedness and ability to be present to our students at such a time of uncertainty. Know that you and your families remain in the prayers of the students and faculty here at Villa Maria. God Bless.
Sister Susan Joseph, IHM, Ed.D. Principal
Our teachers and students continue their commitment to academic excellence using innovative learning and technology.
Villa Maria Academy History SISTER MARGARET GRADL AND THE MOVE TO THE CURRENT CAMPUS
Sister Margaret Gradl — Sister Anne Bernard, as she was known during her tenure — became the first principal of Villa Maria Academy Lower School in 1970. At the time, the elementary and secondary levels were one school located on Villa Maria Academy High School’s current campus in Malvern. The General Administration of the IHM Sisters decided to separate the school into two academies due to increasing interest in Villa Maria. After the split, Sister Margaret served as principal for approximately 150 students, with one class of 1st through 8th grades. The number of students continued to grow and the IHM Sisters evaluated the possibility to add onto St. Joseph’s Hall. Instead, in 1979, the General Administration of the Congregation chose to move the elementary school into the postulant wing at the Motherhouse. With the decline in vocations, the building was underused and had space available. They asked Sister Margaret to lead this transition. At first, Sister recalls that she felt overwhelmed, but then excited to formulate a plan with the six IHM Sisters and two laypeople on staff. The new learning center would occupy the terrace level and 1st floor of the wing and needed some renovations. A kitchen and cafeteria were constructed with spaces for music, dance, and a science lab on the bottom level. Sister and her team found solutions to provide the necessities for each classroom located on the floor above. For example, they had cabinets with chalkboards on the front built to hold books. Sister Margaret said it was “fun to do things like that, that people said it couldn’t be done, and we did it”! Sister put together a group of parents who had a vested interest in funding the move. One father loaned his semi-truck. At the end of the semester, students finished with their books and packed them in boxes. Each class had a color-coded tape for cartons and desks, and at the new school, a flag was outside each classroom to designate where to place things. Sister and her team hired movers to transfer the big items like the piano and the library tables. Nothing was out of place except a chair that a project manager used to sit on during the move. They quickly found its right location. On a day in early June, all the families were invited to help with moving day and bring their children and station wagons. At 7:15 am, the semi-truck went through Malvern to the new campus, and they joyfully blasted its horn on their way. Sister jokes that the townspeople may not have liked the noise, but no one complained. Everything was impressively completed by 11:30 am. The parent board planned a picnic on the front lawn with a menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, and kielbasas. Sister remembers everyone was so happy and receptive to the change. All the families were excited for the elementary school to have its very own stage, cafeteria, and gymnasium. They looked forward to enjoying activities in the Motherhouse swimming pool. Sister said, “I can still see it. I can see the children and their parents. You couldn’t have a greater group of parents (to make this move). Everyone thought it was a big adventure!”
Sister Margaret was principal of Villa Maria Academy Lower School for 11 years; the last two years were at the new location. She also taught German at the high school. “I loved everything I did at Villa Maria. I really loved being there. I loved the children. I have so many stories that I could write a book about the funny things the children did. They were so innocent (and because of it) they said it like they saw it.” Sister shares an account about a replaced slide in the playground, one with a bump in the middle. She recalls all the children patiently stood in line to take a turn. After school, it started to drizzle, and Sister Margaret looked outside and saw a little girl going up and down the slide with an umbrella. After Villa, Sister Margaret went to a multi-cultural, -financial, and -lingual school in Miami. She was excited since it was her first time in Florida. Her next move took her back up north where she worked in the Superintendent’s office in Philadelphia. She then became the administrator of Camilla Hall for twelve years. Sister Margaret loved this role. “I loved the sisters. It was like coming home in a special way to be in that prayerful environment day after day. It was like living in a history book in a sense because I would listen to what stories they would tell, and it was interesting and entertaining”. Today Sister Margaret lives in the Motherhouse. She tells people she is retired, but she still helps in the Advancement Office. When asked what she took with her from her time at Villa, she said, “It taught me a lot to understand people and what they were feeling. It was very important for me to get to know the parents of our children. (It) became a priority for me to get to know the families and their connections (including) the grandmothers and grandfathers”. Sister’s ongoing relationships remain strong. She has been recognized at times only by her voice and still remembers details about her students and their family members when she sees them. “Villa was so family-oriented,” she said and believes it is the same now. Sister looks back with love for her exciting life and accomplishments. “The Lord has been good to me in many ways.” She emphasizes that life is an adventure. “If we are positive about the Lord and positive about what we can do with His help, we can do anything.”
An Alumna Recollection An Interview with Julie Heaney, Class of 1980 Julie Heaney is a member of Villa Maria Academy Lower School’s Class of 1980, the first 8th-grade class to graduate after the move to the new campus. We asked her to recall her memories as a student at Villa Maria.
Q. When did you start going to Villa? A. I started at Villa in 6th grade. I think my parents chose Villa because they had both attended Catholic schools.
Q. What do you remember about the lower school when it was on the same campus as the high school?
A. The beautiful grounds, the dance lessons in the dance studio in old St. Cecilia Hall. It used to sit across the driveway from St Joseph’s Hall, but it is no longer there. When I started 6th grade, we were required to take tap dancing one day a week in place of a gym class.
Q. When did you hear about the new school?
A. In the spring of 7th grade, we learned that the lower school was going to move to the House of Studies at the end of the school year.
Q. What do you remember about getting ready for the move?
A. I don’t remember much about my involvement in the move, although I’m sure we must have spent a lot of time toward the end of the school year to help with the packing. I remember that the father of my friend arranged for the demolition company he worked for to provide an 18-wheel tractor-trailer as a moving van to move our school to the new building.
Q. What are your memories of the new campus?
A. It was very exciting to be in the new school at the House of Studies for the start of 8th grade! The gym was so much larger and nicer than the old gym at the high school. That gym has since been torn down. We were able to use the beautiful chapel at the House of Studies; at the high school, we didn’t have anything like that. A particularly memorable thing about the House of Studies chapel was the two levels of choir lofts that our singing groups could use at Mass. I also remember the minitheater on the ground level of our wing. We didn’t use the upper level at all. It was still configured as dormitory rooms, and we weren’t permitted to go up there. When we were cleaning our classrooms at the new lower school, we all wanted the job of cleaning the chalk erasers, because there was a central vacuum system in the basement that we used to suction the chalk dust. It was a lot of fun.
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A kitchen and cafeteria needed to be built because there wasn’t anything like that in our wing. My mother was hired to set up and run the new kitchen, so that was very memorable for me! It was nice to have her working just down the hall for my eighth-grade year. The only thing I remember missing (about the former campus) was the sports field. We used an area next to our wing for field hockey practice, but it was very rough and difficult to play on. My memory is that we went back to the high school to play our home games that year.
Q. What was unique about being the first class to graduate on the new campus?
A. It was special to have our graduation Mass in the Motherhouse Chapel.
Q. What is your life path since graduating from Villa?
A. I received an engineering degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and directly after earning that degree, I went to Columbia Law School with the idea of specializing in patent law. One of my engineering professors inspired my interest in that idea. I’ve now been working in the field of patent law for almost 30 years. For most of that time, I worked in patent litigation at a law firm, and for the past four years, I’ve been an Administrative Patent Judge at the US Patent & Trademark Office.
Q. How did being a student at Villa Maria Academy Lower School impact your life?
A. In patent law, having a solid foundation in sentence structure and grammar is just as important as having technical knowledge when it comes to working with patent claims. I credit my language arts lessons in 6th-8th grade at Villa for giving me that foundation! I think that my years at Villa also nurtured my self-confidence and sense of social responsibility, values which I hope to pass on to my two sons.
An Alumna Autobiography as a Navy Test Pilot By Priti Bhatnagar, Class of 1999 When my parents moved to Pennsylvania for work shortly after I was born, they started looking for good schools, and Villa Maria Academy Lower School was the top recommendation they received. I attended Villa from 1st through 8th grades. Throughout the years, Big Sisters/ Little Sisters, the Spring Show, Mission Day, and the Family Mass and Picnic all stand out as traditions I enjoyed. I remember the teachers being caring and enthusiastic. Along with being great academic teachers, one thing that sticks out is the emphasis they placed on respecting others. I don’t think I realized it then, but looking back, I know that even outside my close group of friends, my classmates and I treated each other with respect and kindness. I went to Villa Maria Academy High School and then college at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire, where I dual majored in Aviation Flight Operations and Aeronautical Engineering. I thought about attending a military academy when I was looking at colleges, but I wasn’t sure enough at the time that was what I wanted to do. A few of my undergraduate professors had been military test pilots, and this career seemed interesting to me. They advised me that as a civilian, the next step would be to get a master’s degree. I followed their advice, applied for graduate school, earned an M.S. Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During and after earning my undergraduate degree, I worked as a flight instructor and scenic pilot. I had an internship as a production test pilot before graduate school and flew new aircraft when they came off the assembly line before delivery to customers. I realized in graduate school that I wanted a job where I felt like I was making a difference. Joining the Navy was a way for me to have a career where I felt like I could make a positive contribution to society, but also allowed me to fly and continue pursuing my goal of becoming a test pilot. I attended flight school at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and they selected me for the E-6B aircraft. I was then based at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for four years flying the E-6B Mercury, an airborne command post and communications relay aircraft. After applying to the United States Naval Test Pilot school several times, they accepted my third application. I have been based at NAS Patuxent River since 2016, and currently serve as a test pilot for the E-6B. As a Naval officer, I ensure that the group of Sailors I lead are ready, and I take care of them, both professionally and personally. I make sure we meet our training requirements, and various administrative tasks are completed day-to-day. As a test pilot, I work with a team of test engineers. When we have new capabilities to test, we write a test plan, execute the ground and flight tests required, and then report on our results. The favorite aspect of my job is definitely getting to fly different types of aircraft. My primary platform is the E-6B, which I enjoy flying, but I am very grateful to have the opportunity to operate other types of aircraft at my squadron as secondary platforms.
The most challenging thing is something that I think anyone who works for a big company or enterprise has to deal with – paperwork! I’ve flown all over the country in the E-6B, as well as a few trips overseas, and it’s hard to pick a favorite place. If I had to pick two favorites, I’d probably choose Key West, Florida, and anywhere in Alaska. The contrasting environments of tropical blue water and snow-covered mountains are quite different but both beautiful. As a professional, there are three skills in particular that I attribute to my time at Villa: time management, attention to detail, and discipline. These things were key to everything I did at Villa – from the time I put on my uniform in the morning; to when I took notes in class that teachers inevitably graded on penmanship and the proper use of red underlines (at least they used to be!); to managing an academic workload with extra-curricular activities. They may have been small tasks in grade school, but the underlying skills required to execute them apply directly to my job every day. Every time I contribute to a report that will impact fleet capabilities, run a checklist, or execute a standard or emergency procedure in the airplane, I’m using the same skills that I honed during my time at Villa Maria. As a leader, and really just a human being, learning how to respect and treat other people with kindness is one value that has directly impacted my life since Villa. While being a leader can sometimes mean enforcing rules and being firm, it, more importantly, means taking care of your people. Simply being kind to others can go a long way in building the mutual trust that is required when you work with a team of people. Finally, the myriad of experiences I had at Villa helped build confidence in me to try new things and not be afraid to take on new challenges. My teachers at Villa provided support, but they also allowed students to grow as individuals and learn how to be resilient in the face of obstacles.
A Love of Food Inspires Entrepreneurship By Lauren Carroll, Class of 2008 I attended Villa from Kindergarten through high school (2000 - 2012). I went on to Saint Joseph’s University and majored in Communications and after college began working in the digital media industry. I am currently a Social Analyst at CMI Media, a Pharmaceutical Marketing Agency. I handle all paid social strategy and implementation for my brands, along with social listening. The foundation and experience Villa have provided me have been pivotal in shaping me into who I am today. I run a food Instagram called @love_phillyfood that I started in October 2014, during my junior year of college. After taking a class that required me to create a blog focused on something I was passionate about (I chose cookies), I realized that I enjoyed food photography. At the same time, my friends urged me to stop posting pictures of food on my personal Instagram, so I made a separate account for fun. Fast forward five years, and I have almost 40K followers on Instagram! (P.S. - all photos are from my iPhone). Running this account has been such a fun experience and has been a creative outlet for me to have, in addition to my full-time job, which is more analytical. Not only have I met amazing people within the restaurant industry and ‘Instagrammer scene,’ it has allowed me to partner with incredible brands such as American Express, Marriott Hotels, and Saladworks. It’s introduced me to the great restaurants Philadelphia has to offer. During my first job out of college at Harmelin Media, I met Mollie, who runs another food Instagram, @phillyfoodies. We quickly became friends and were able to connect on our passion for restaurant social media marketing. As we attended different food events and became more familiar with the restaurant industry in Philadelphia, we noticed that there was a space missing in the market for social media services. When we would talk to small restaurant owners, we realized they did not have the time or energy to devote to social but comprehended how important it was. We decided to create City Chew, LLC, which is an Instagram Management and Content Creation business in March of 2017. We had support from our first few clients that allowed us to learn everything it takes to run a business, from all the busy work (becoming an LLC, contracts, taxes, invoicing) to building meaningful relationships and connections. We work with restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Area, developing their social content and posting consistently on their brand pages to ensure that current and future customers can use their page as a reliable resource. We use our page’s followings to promote the same content to drive users to their profile and generate buzz. Mollie and I always say when we are looking for places to eat, we automatically go to Instagram, as many people now do. If the page isn’t updated or not appealing, we are less likely to go, and we wanted to change that. We’ve managed this company for three years, in addition to our full-time jobs, and it has
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been such a rewarding experience. As I grow my career, I aspire to merge my two passions into a successful business. I always get asked about my favorite restaurants in the city, and it is such a hard question because there are so many fantastic options. My go-to is Continental Midtown, where I always order (and if you follow my page, you know) the Deep Dish Cookie. It is my favorite dessert of all time. I also love Metropolitan Bakery’s pizza, The Bakeshop on 20th, and Talula’s Garden. In the suburbs, my first choices are Anthony’s in Malvern (they’re a City Chew client too!) and the Classic Diner for brunch. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it makes you step back and realize that all your favorite restaurants and businesses are at risk and struggling. I am lucky to have a platform that allows me to spread the word about restaurants doing curbside pickup along with different resources that will enable consumers to support businesses, donate, and give back. My time at Villa Maria Lower allowed me to gain confidence and learn the skills needed to be an entrepreneur while also managing a full-time job. The foundation to write well and communicate effectively were essential parts of Villa’s education that have allowed me to be where I currently am. The girls I went to school with were also an instrumental part of the foundation I have built. When I had a sports injury in sixth grade, it allowed me to focus more on creative thinking. I was also a part of the Yearbook and TechKnow Staff, which led to my interest in digital media and photography. It is the culmination of my experiences at Villa that helped to influence the entrepreneurial spirit I have today.
Support the Villa Maria Mission Your gifts made as an alumna and member of the Villa Family sustains Villa Maria Academy Lower School’s Mission to empower generations of young girls for spiritual and moral development, academic excellence, leadership and service energized by the IHM Charism of love, creative hope, and fidelity. There are several ways to make an impact.
ANNUAL FUND GIFTS: Every year, each gift to the Annual Fund enhances the VMALS learning environment by providing advances in curriculum and technology, ongoing professional education for our teachers, and maintaining safe and well-kept buildings and campus. The Annual Fund is about all of our parents, grandparents, alumnae, and friends participating in thoughtful giving to benefit everyone, no matter the amount.
RECURRING GIFTS: In becoming a Friend of Villa Maria, you can make ongoing gifts to the Annual Fund in smaller amounts that equal a significant annual contribution. Recurring gifts can be monthly, quarterly, and annually and are secure, automatic, and renewable. These dependable contributions provide ongoing support for our students, teachers, and Villa Family. One-time gifts to the Annual Fund can be made by check using the enclosed envelope. You can securely make your online donation or set up recurring gifts by scanning the QR code with the camera on your device or visit our website at villamaria.org and click on “Support VMA”.
CORPORATE MATCHING GIFTS: Your employer may match your donation and increase the amount of your gift. Check with your HR department to ask if your company offers this benefit. Once you obtain a matching gift form, include it with your gift. You will get credit for your gift and your employer’s matched contribution.
SUPPORT EITC: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program makes it possible for businesses to redirect their PA tax dollars to schools as support of student tuition financial aid. Tax credits equal to 75 percent of its contribution up to a maximum of $750,000 per taxable year and can be increased to 90 percent of the contribution if a business agrees to provide the same amount for two consecutive tax years. In addition, business owners can claim a charitable deduction for the difference between the tax credit amount and the gift. Contact Villa Maria for more information. TRIBUTES: Gifts in honor or in memory of a loved one are special remembrances of the Villa Maria community. An acknowledgment is sent to the family from the Advancement Office. GIFTS IN KIND: Villa Maria gratefully accepts gifts made in kind. A tax deduction letter is sent to the individual, business, and corporation. For more information, contact the Advancement Office.
GIFTS OF SECURITIES: Your gifts of appreciated securities, either publicly traded or from a private company, may provide greater tax advantages than gifts of cash. The donor can deduct the fair market value as a charitable gift.
Contact Us Contact the Advancement Office to learn more about the ways you may support Villa Maria’s Mission. Melissa Kiebort | Mission Advancement Director firstname.lastname@example.org | 610.644.4864 x106 villamaria.org 5
Fourth graders celebrated Earth Day on April 22nd by working to do more to respect and preserve our earth. They did their part by planting flowers in their gardens or pots around their homes to help the environment.
development team Jenn Cianciarulo, Director of Admissions Jenn grew up in Oreland, PA, and now resides in Havertown with her husband, Dan, and their children Ben (4) and Isla (2). Jenn attended West Chester University, where she graduated with a degree in Marketing. This is Jenn’s first year working as the Admissions Director at Villa Maria, and she has enjoyed getting to know Villa’s wonderful teachers, students, and families. “One of my favorite things about working at Villa has been experiencing all of the special Villa traditions: Mission Day, the 1st Grade Saints’ Show and the Christmas Pageant have been some of my favorites.” In her free time, Jenn enjoys reading and spending time with her family. They love visiting Jenn’s parents in Ocean City and spending time on the beach, boardwalk, and of course eating ice cream!
Melissa Kiebort, Director of Mission Advancement Melissa joined the Development Team as our Mission Advancement Director in February 2019. She is from Bethlehem, PA, and graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Marketing. Melissa is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary this year with her husband, Todd, and has two daughters — Cameron (17) and Cady (15) — and a son, Connor (13). She keeps busy with her children’s swim meets, volleyball games, and lacrosse tournaments. Melissa cherishes her relationships with her Villa Family that include the staff, teachers, students, parents, and alumnae. She loves “to overhear the conversations of our younger students in the hallway” and enjoys her talks with Sister Margaret and Sister Renee who have offices adjacent to the one she shares with Erin. Her favorite memories are the graduation Mass and the Women of the World event when alumnae were invited back to speak to our middle school students. During her downtime, Melissa likes to spend time with family and friends and relax on the beach in Avalon.
Erin Tornambe, Director of Marketing Erin is from Long Island, New York. She went to college at Saint Joseph’s University, where she met her husband, Michael, and then moved to Pennsylvania. They have two children: Luca (7) and Stella (5 ½) who attended Villa Maria Academy’s Early Learning Center. Erin has been working as Villa’s Marketing Director for the past 9 years and loves her Villa family. Her favorite Villa memory was the first time she watched the Christmas Pageant — “It was so moving! I cried!” — and then the following year, when Luca was born, he was asked to be baby Jesus. “We were honored to be a part of that special Villa tradition!” Erin misses all the teachers and staff and the smiles and sweet voices of all the children. “Our faculty and staff really care about each other. Our Villa family is strong and very supportive of one another. I also miss the children singing and skipping through the halls. Our school community is so vibrant! It is sad to think about our empty halls right now.” In her free time, Erin enjoys spending time with her husband and children and reading.
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A University Student During COVID-19 By Maddie Gilbertson, Class of 2013 I remember Miss Connors, my music teacher at Villa Maria Academy Lower School, teaching my classmates and me an Irish Blessing when I was in 7th grade. We sang it to the eighth-graders at the annual concert to send them off to high school. I still remember the words and the melody. At the time, I loved the song because of its lyrics: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. You could say that this song is what sparked my interest in Ireland and hopefully getting to visit one day. I am a proud “Villa Lifer”. After graduating from Lower Villa in 2013 and Upper Villa in 2017, I decided to attend the University of Notre Dame for college to study Management Consulting and English major. I knew Notre Dame was right for me because I recognized a community that I had grown up with – the close-knit, familial environment that had fostered and empowered me at Lower Villa. When I was accepted to study at Trinity College Dublin as a junior, I was over the moon. In mid-January this year, I set off. The first few weeks were busy – I was introduced to Irish culture, language, university, all while making friends and traveling with my Notre Dame cohort on weekends. Everything was exciting and new and so profoundly different than the United States. I was living my dream. A great group of new friends surrounded me, and Dublin was even more dynamic and exciting than I had expected. For a few weeks, everything was perfect. Two months in, however, and my friends and I started to hear words like “pandemic” and “social distancing”. We naively thought that coronavirus couldn’t touch us in Dublin since we were on a tiny island in the North Atlantic. We started hearing about other colleges canceling their study abroad program, then students at Trinity – the university we were attending – were testing positive for coronavirus. The situation was much more serious than we originally had thought. Trinity suspended classes for two weeks and then proceeded to close for the rest of the semester. My Irish roommates moved out. Leaving our abroad program seemed inevitable. On March 11th, we finally received the news we were all dreading: Notre Dame was suspending all study abroad programs. Students must return home as soon as possible. We had a few days to pack and say goodbye to the city we had come to know and love. Friends were leaving on parent-purchased plane tickets before we could even say goodbye. Trinity’s campus emptied of all students and tourists, and all the restaurants and tourist attractions closed. The city became a ghost town, and Dublin no longer felt like Dublin. It lost its life and color. Those couple of days were very surreal and emotional, and I was ready to return home. I touched down in the United States the day before St. Patrick’s Day, weary and heartbroken. The first few days home were, for lack of a better word, weird. I was a bundle of mixed emotions: relief, frustration, sorrow. I mourned my lost semester while being grateful that I was able to
return to a loving, healthy family. My sister Caitlin (VMALS ‘14) was also sent home for the rest of her semester. We haven’t lived at home for this long since before going to college. As a family, we are figuring out a schedule that works for everyone. We got a new puppy, and she keeps us very busy. Zoom has become my best friend: I use it to see my friends (we recently had a virtual birthday party for my friend when he turned 21), attend live lectures, and drop in on my professors’ office hours. The novelty of college at home has worn off at this point, and the reality of my cut-too-short semester is setting in. I think about what I’d be doing if I was in Dublin right now – grabbing a pint at Doyle’s, walking through Merrion Square to O’Connell House, drinking tea with my roommates, having a takeout dinner in Front Square – but I find that just makes me sad. I am frustrated and disappointed, but I am also fortunate. My family and friends are blessed with health and happiness, and I am in a loving home. The pandemic has required everyone to change their daily habits radically. Every day around the dinner table, my family and I count our blessings that we are together and safe during these unprecedented and difficult times. It was only a few days ago that my family and I were reminiscing about Villa, about the things we didn’t appreciate then that we do now. Lower Villa was a truly formative experience for my sister and me. It shaped the person that I am today: brave enough to travel across the world and flexible enough to adjust to the new normal. I wish health and happiness to everyone in the Villa family as you adapt to the new normal. Let me leave you with the rest of the Irish Blessing: And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
VMALS Alumnae Connection We value ongoing relationships with our alumnae and we are committed to keeping a connection among our graduates in each class. One way we can do this is for our VMALS Alumnae to update their profile and contact information. Everyone would like to hear from you! Don’t miss out on news from your classmates, the VMALS Alumnae Newsletter, “Flashback Fridays” on social media, networking opportunities, and invitations to alumnae gatherings and school celebrations! You can provide your life update several ways: • Visit the VMALS website at villamaria.org and select “Alumnae” to submit your life update and add your current contact information. • Click on this QR code with the camera on your device and it will take you this page on our website. • Mail the form below to the VMALS Mission Advancement Office, 280 IHM Drive, Malvern, PA 19355 • Scan the form below and email to email@example.com Are you following VMALS on social media? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Name Maiden Name Lower School Class Year High School College(s) and degree(s) earned Address Email
What is your life update? Include news about your family, career, path since graduation, where you are now, milestones, and events.
What are your favorite VMALS memories?
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Spring is always a beautiful time of year at the Villa Maria Academy Campus.
Class news CLASS OF 2019 Jordi De Jong attends Villa Maria Academy High School and participates in the music program and other clubs. Makenna Walko attends The Baldwin School. Lisa Evans attends The Baldwin School and is playing tennis and participates in many clubs. Jackie Barton plays field hockey and basketball at Downingtown West High School and planned to participate in track this spring. Alex Sourdis attends West Chester East High School. She is involved with the theater program and other clubs.
CLASS OF 2018 Amanda Treston attends Archmere Academy and is still singing and playing volleyball.
CLASS OF 2016 Gracie Youakim attends the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur. She is part of their stage crew. She joined the crew team as a coxswain and rower and loves the sport.
CLASS OF 2015 Cristina De Jong is a Materials Science and Engineering major at Johns Hopkins University and is studying and working on research in her department. Anna Levine graduated from VMAHS and attends Loyola University in Maryland. Josie Hepplemann graduated from VMAHS, works at Gravity Fault, runs a community garden, and attends USC with a major in Health and Human Sciences.
CLASS OF 2014 Dom Ocampo majors in materials engineering and theater at Lehigh University. She’s been in three major theater productions and interns at the University Center. Kate Murray studies elementary education at the University of Scranton. Thea De Jong majors in International Relations and
minors in Data Science at American University. She plays in the band and finished an internship with Brady United Against Gun Violence.
enjoys running and training for marathons, and spending time with friends and her sisters, Jemma (’11) and Cara (’18).
Tara Tremmel works in a research lab, participates on the equestrian team, and is the CAO of Kappa Alpha Theta at Cornell University. She double majors in Biology and English.
Melissa Radie attended Immaculata University for Nursing and earned her BSN, RN. She is a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the Trauma/Neuro Inpatient Rehab Unit.
Sydney Porreca majors in Graphic Design at Penn State Brandywine and plans to transfer to University Park next year.
CLASS OF 2007
Information Technology. She is a Systems Engineer employed by Lockheed Martin. Lesley Walinchus-Foster is a Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine at Cooper University Hospital. This summer, she will begin working for two hospitals in Washington DC and Clinton, Maryland as an attending Emergency Medicine Physician and Faculty Member for Georgetown University’s EM Residency Program.
Christina Cramer attends Bentley University and will graduate in 2021 with a B.A. in Business and Public Policy.
Taylor Lynch graduated from West Chester University with her first degree in Sports Medicine. She earned a second degree in nursing from Drexel University’s accelerated nursing program this past October.
CLASS OF 2013
CLASS OF 2006
CLASS OF 1999
Lauren O’Brien is in the Temple University College of Engineering.
Amber Lubker serves as Lieutenant with the Thorndale Volunteer Fire Company. She is a graduate of West Chester University with a BS in Elementary and Special Education and currently works as a Preschool Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator for the Malvern School in Downingtown.
Lucia A. Walinchus is an attorney who is the Executive Director of the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism and an adjunct professor at Ohio University.
CLASS OF 2012 Devi Dontineni attends the U.S. Naval Academy. Alayna McDonald is a student in the University of Delaware School of Nursing. Grace Kuroki is in the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering.
CLASS OF 2010 Megan Parsons is a registered nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. Kierra Lynch graduated from Penn State University with a master’s degree in SpeechLanguage Pathology. Audrey Siana is a Medical Laboratory Scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
CLASS OF 2009 Courtney Stroud is an account transition specialist with the Vanguard Group. Olivia DeRogatis graduated from Bryant University and works at Conner Strong, in Marlton, NJ. She consults with employers to put together benefit packages. Oliva currently lives in Philadelphia,
Anna McCahon graduated from Yale University, where she played on the women’s soccer team. She continued her studies at University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and now works as an associate dentist at two practices in Delaware County.
CLASS OF 2005 Alexandra Morris works in business administration as a pharmaceutical company consultant and was previously employed at Estee Lauder and Campbells Soup as part of their global supply chains.
CLASS OF 2003 Katie Flemming Mutschler, who is the oldest daughter of our wonderful school nurse, Noreen Flemming, is a registered nurse at Broomall Presbyterian Nursing Home.
CLASS OF 2001 Lindsay Chadzak Bowman graduated from Immaculata University with a degree in
CLASS OF 2000 Mary Gratton is an 8th-grade teacher at Villa Maria Academy and holds a doctorate degree in religious education.
CLASS OF 1998 Laura Teta Cecconi is a software delivery manager at the Vanguard Group and has a son who attends PreK at Villa Maria Academy.
CLASS OF 1994 Faithe R. Kalisperis is a pediatric physical therapist and researcher at DuPont Hospital. Kelly O’Hara Anderson is the owner and operator of Uncle Bill’s Pancake House and Aunt Betty’s Ice Cream Shack in Ocean City and Strathmere, NJ. Kim Spada is a licensed real estate professional and home design consultant.
CLASS OF 1974 Valerie (Ferry) Sarmento is a local Commercial Real Estate Asset Manager overseeing an extensive portfolio. She lives with family in Malvern, has one married daughter, and enjoys kayaking and still “getting together with my Villa Girls”.
Villa Maria Academy Lower School 280 IHM Drive Malvern, PA 19355 www.villamaria.org 610.644.4864
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