Cougar Courier

November 21st, 2020

Austin Prep Celebrates Convocation Mass



Despite occurring later in the year than usual, the Austin Prep community came together on Tuesday, November 17th for the annual tradition of Convocation Mass, which marked the official start of Austin Prep’s 59th academic year. The entire Senior Class of 2021 was joined by members of the sixth grade Class of 2027 and select School faculty and staff in Richard J. Meelia Hall for the Mass. Due to restrictions placed on gatherings, the Mass was livestreamed to the remaining Austin Prep students, either in classrooms on campus or learning remotely from home, as well as the parent community.  Click here to view photos from the Mass.

With banners representing all seven Austin Prep classes surrounding the stage, TJ Dysart ’21, School-Wide President, welcomed his fellow classmates. Dysart acknowledged that while recent months have been difficult, and settling into a routine to start the school year has been a challenge, our School community moves forward guided by our mission and values.

“Our mission isn’t measured in miles, meters, yards, or even six feet. Our mission is measured by the goodness in our hearts and contributions that we make in our communities,” Dysart said. “It’s important for us to not just speak about our mission, but to live it.”

Each academic year, Austin Prep adopts a theme to help advance the School’s mission. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Austin Prep’s theme comes from the words of Jesus from St. John’s Gospel: “I pray that they all may be one.” The theme resonated throughout the Convocation Mass, with Fr. Patrick Armano, School Chaplain, referencing the theme during his homily.

“We are one community that is made up of individuals, and in order to truly become united, in order to truly become one, each of us has to put our best effort towards that unity by what we do in our own lives,” Fr. Armano said. “That unity requires the effort of each of us, to focus on the bettering of ourselves, so that we can focus on building those around us up.”

Head of School, James Hickey, Ph.D. noted that as another academic year begins, our nation is divided, but Austin Prep’s enduring mission helps support our pursuit of unity. “Think about that: It was the prayer of the son of God that we should all come together,” Dr. Hickey said, referring to this year’s school theme. “We can do that by honoring the command of Jesus, to treat others the way we would want to be treated.”

“As an Augustinian community committed to veritas, unitas, and caritas, we need to model behavior and acts of kindness and compassion that bring people together,” Dr. Hickey added.

During his remarks, Dr. Hickey acknowledged two Faculty members, Assistant Head and Head of Upper School Dr. William Driscoll, ’89 and Science Chair Dr. Maria Blewitt, who earned their doctoral degrees last spring but unfortunately could not participate in their respective commencement ceremonies due to the pandemic. To honor their achievement, Dr. Hickey invited Dr. Driscoll and Dr. Blewitt to wear their doctoral gowns to Convocation. In a touching moment, Dr. Hickey offered his gown to be worn by Dr. Blewitt, who could not secure hers in time for Convocation.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Senior Class of 2021, led by Senior Class Officers Kayla Russell ’21 and Arya Gupta ’21, continued with tradition and hoisted the class banner to the rafters of Meelia Hall, where it will remain until being lowered at Baccalaureate Mass in May, 2021.


Lower Fields Ribbon Cutting and Blessing

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Director of Athletics Pat Driscoll '97, Assistant Head for Enrollment and Athletics Jonathan Pollard '97, Head of School James Hickey, Ph.D., Head Girls Tennis Coach Mike Collins, and Head Field Hockey Coach Brianna Robbins participated in Tuesday's ribbon cutting.


After Convocation Mass, Austin Prep celebrated a special blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the official opening of our lower fields athletic complex. Following a welcome from Head of School James Hickey, Ph.D., the new tennis courts and baseball field were blessed by Father Patrick Armano, School Chaplain. In attendance for the event were Austin Prep faculty and staff, and coaches and members of the baseball, field hockey, and tennis teams. Two separate ribbons cuttings took place - one for each facility - with Assistant Head for Enrollment and Athletics and Head Baseball Coach Jonathan Pollard '97 having the ribbon cutting honors on the baseball field. To view photos from the event, click here.

Also a part of the ceremony was a special blessing of a time capsule for the Class of 2020. After their May, 2020 graduation, members of the Class of 2020 submitted mementos which were collected by the school and will be buried at a to be determined location at the lower fields athletic complex.

Austin Prep broke ground on the lower fields athletic complex in October 2019.  In addition to use by Austin Prep athletics and the student community, the fields have also served host to a summer high school baseball league, various camps and external organizations.


Reminder Regarding Holiday Travel Plans

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As a reminder, as we approach the holiday season, we know Austin Prep families may be traveling to visit extended family and friends. To that end, Austin Prep has developed a health and safety plan for holiday travel. We ask that you review the policy and comply with its guidelines. For the policy to be as effective as it can be, the Austin Prep community needs to be unwavering in our commitment to the common good and exemplify our core values of veritas, unitas, and caritas. There is an uncompromising expectation that we continue to honor Austin Prep’s Covenant and the holiday travel policy. This is a time when all of us – students, staff, and parents – need to be champions of integrity.


Austin Prep Presents Continues with Former Editor of the Boston Herald

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Austin Prep Presents continues on Tuesday, November 24th at 7:00 p.m. with Joe Sciacca ’75, who is the Enterprise Editor, 7News WHDH TV, and former Editor in Chief at the Boston Herald. Joe's presentation will address being a good news consumer, credibility of the media during a crisis, and how to work with the press no matter what company or institution you work for. This will be a great webinar for anyone from CEOs to first responders. To register for the webinar, please click here.


Virtual Mass on Thanksgiving Day

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We invite all members of the Austin Prep community to join Father Patrick Armano, School Chaplain, on Thanksgiving Day Morning for Mass. The Mass will be celebrated virtually from the Chapel of Saint Augustine on the Austin Prep campus. The link to view the Mass will be distributed in advance of the Mass. These unusual times have provided opportunities we may have not previously considered. The Mass on Thanksgiving morning will allow us to gather as a community in praise and gratitude for the many blessings we have received individually and communally. We hope you will join us.


Faculty and Staff Kick Off the Annual Fund Campaign Strong

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Every year, as we approach the holiday season, we launch our fall Annual Fund appeal, asking those in the school community to remember Austin Prep in your year-end-giving plans. Annual Fund contributions enrich the quality of life for our students and their teachers, and enhances all student life including the arts and athletics, technology, teacher professional development, and family financial assistance. Such contributions maintain unique and distinctive learning opportunities for today's students and those who will journey with us for years to come.

Prior to launching the fall campaign for parents, past parents, grandparents, alumni and friends, we ask our Board of Trustees, faculty and staff to support the annual fund. That process, just recently completed, has yielded amazing results, and with their outstanding support, our campaign is off to a tremendous start. It means so much that our faculty and staff support our mission!

More information about the Annual Fund will be arriving in your home mailboxes in the coming days, but you can click here now to make a donation. Thank you in advance for your continued support of Austin Prep through the Annual Fund during the holiday season and beyond!


Fall Sport Senior Days Continue

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Cross Country celebrated their Senior Day on November 17th: Brianna Fountain, Ariana Clark, Alyssa Vounessea, Dominick McDonough, George Kiu, TJ Brosnan, Georgia Poulakis, Emily Pessina, Melina Loyack, and Molly Duggan.


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Golf celebrated their Senior Day on November 11th. The whole team is pictured, but seniors included: Thomas O'Koniewski, Sergio Domingo, Douglas Russo, and Joseph Thibodeau.



Ninth Grade Descriptive Writing Contest

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Students in the ninth grade had some festive fun during Halloween week. Students have been studying descriptive writing and were challenged to write the grossest description possible using figurative language, sensory details, and specific word choice. This year's winner is Mrs. Nicole Putney's P'26 student Marcel Joe '24. He was presented with this year's Gross Out Trophy by previous winner Ryan Ackerley '22.


Vachon '21 Signs with Bentley University



Austin Prep hosted its second signing event of the year, as Gabrielle Vachon '21 signed her National Letter of Intent on Monday to continue her soccer career at Bentley University. Gabrielle was joined by family, friends, teammates and members of the Austin Prep staff as she committed to play for the Falcons, who compete at the NCAA Division II level and within the Northeast-10 conference. Congratulations Gabrielle and best of luck as you continue your athletic career!


Simmons '24 Serves Community Through the Martin Richard Foundation

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Michael Simmons '24 and his three younger siblings were recently awarded a $500 2020 Bridge Builder grant by the Martin Richard Foundation.  The Bridge Builder campaign calls on kids to bring their communities together in service.  

Michael and his siblings are collecting as many hygiene products as possible to put kits together to be donated to the Woburn Senior Center, Woburn Council of Social Concern and the Tanner Closet at Woburn High School.  They have started a wish list on Amazon to make donating safer amid the pandemic.

We continue to be amazed at the commitment that our students have in their service to others outside of the Austin Prep community. Good work, Michael!


Middle School Blog Takes an Athletic Tour of Campus

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In the latest edition of the Middle School Blog, Mr. Michael McLaughlin, Head of Middle School, provides a look into the Middle School experience through the lens of our Middle School student-athletes. The courts and fields of play are yet another venue in which our students can accelerate their growth and flourish as independent learners. Click here to read the blog.


Happy Thanksgiving From Austin Prep



During this special time of year, we are especially grateful that you are a part of the Austin Prep Community.

Warmest wishes to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

As a reminder, Thanksgiving Break begins Wednesday, November 25th and classes will resume Monday, November 30th. The Cougar Courier will return on Saturday, December 5th.