Cougar Courier: The Year in Review Edition

At the recent Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2020, Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, JCD, told the Class that "you have had the strangest Senior Year of any class at Austin Prep in its history." While that is likely true, and no review of the 2019-2020 academic year would be complete without a reflection on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned this year that all experiences teach us something valuable. The year inarguably provided unique challenges, but not challenges which define us, rather opportunities that help guide us on our individual and collective Austin Prep journeys. From September though June, regardless of the circumstances, our community continued to rise to the occasion, driven by our core values of veritas, unitas, and caritas.  
 
While COVID-19 was certainly a defining moment for our community, a lot happened before – and after – campus closed for the remainder of the academic year. We invite you to take a look back on the stories that helped shape our year together and apart.
 

 

September

First Day of Classes

red carpet

We were excited to roll out the Red Carpet on Tuesday, September 3rd for the first day of classes, welcoming new and returning students to campus as they began a new year on their Austin Prep Journey. Students came to campus refreshed and excited, and were greeted by members of Student Government - who distributed treats at the entrances - and had fun taking pictures in the Austin Prep photo booth! 

New Student Lawn Signs

sign
Members of the Classes of 2023 and 2026 received new student lawn signs and were encouraged to display their lawn signs in their yards and post pictures on social media. Who would have known that the lawn signs would be foreshadowing for the end of the year...

Austin Prep Wins Nason Award for the Second Consecutive Year

For the second consecutive year, Austin Prep was named as the recipient of the Boston Globe Nason Award. This award recognizes overall athletic excellence among Catholic co-educational schools across the Commonwealth, with overall, regular-season winning percentage as the criteria for selection. The award was a great testament to our student-athletes and coaches and their unparalleled success over the past two academic years.

Convocation Marks the Start of the Academic Year

Austin Prep gathered together as a whole community for the first time at Convocation Mass on Friday, September 13th.  Students processed into Richard J. Meelia Hall carrying their class banners, and Josh Azor '20, Student Body President, welcomed his fellow classmates. Josh encouraged those in attendance to live in the moment and build optimism within the school community.

josh

“We must be willing to hold ourselves accountable to the core values we hold dear,” Josh said. “I want you to be aware that actions do speak louder than words. You may forget what someone has said to you, but you will never forget what someone has done for you.”  

Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D. P'22, '23, '24. noted that as another academic year begins, the focus will continue to be on the presumption of goodness, kindness, and civility, as well as how the school community interacts. Dr. Hickey told anecdotal stories of Nelson Burbank, the longtime Reading community leader and philanthropist who passed away in August at the age of 98.

“This was a man who exemplified kindness and civility, a type of kindness and civility that seems to be disappearing” Dr. Hickey said. “You may not have known Mr. Burbank personally, but he lived the life we should all strive to emulate. If, we as a community, are unable to do that, there’s no hope for the larger community beyond this campus.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Senior Class of 2020 continued with tradition and hoisted its class banner to the rafters of Meelia Hall, where it would traditionally remain until being lowered at Baccalaureate Mass in May.

September 11th and the Red Bandanna

During the Fall, Austin Prep held programs related to September 11th and the Red Bandanna, the school-wide summer reading assignment which recounts the true story of Boston College alumnus Welles Crowther, who was working in the World Trade Center during the attack. On September 11th a special community meeting was held to mark 18 years since the September 11th, 2001 attacks. To honor this solemn occasion, the school community gathered in Richard J. Meelia Hall for prayers and remembrance.

Gena Rhodes '20 opened the gathering by leading the student body in the singing of the National Anthem, and the assembly concluded with a moment of silence and the playing of "Taps" by Callum Tinkler '21.

Later in September, Austin Prep welcomed to campus Mr. Matt O’Keefe P’24, father of Abby O’Keefe ’24. Mr. O’Keefe was a Boston College classmate of Welles Crowther, who was working in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, and whose story is recounted in The Red Bandanna.

Mr. O’Keefe, who is referenced in the book, took time to share his memories of Welles, and reflect on his inspirational story. Specifically, Mr. O’Keefe acknowledged the Augustinian values of veritas, unitas and caritas, and related it to Welles’ life.

“I got to know my hero, and it is important that we keep his spirit alive and celebrate everything he was,” O’Keefe said. “Welles inspired me to find my passion. I would encourage you, as you go through school and beyond, to do the things you are passionate about.”

Austin Prep received special recognition from Tom Rinaldi, the author of The Red Bandanna and reporter for ESPN and ABC Sports. Mr. O’Keefe established a relationship with Mr. Rinaldi during the writing of The Red Bandanna. In a prepared video, Mr. Rinaldi addressed the Austin Prep community: "My friend Matt O'Keefe told me that The Red Bandanna was your all-school read. I can't tell you what an honor that is for me to know that you will not only have learned about Welles Crowther and his story but also have the chance to spread his example and his legacy."


 

October

Annual Student Augustinian Values Retreat

Austin Prep students headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the annual Student Augustinian Values Institute (SAVI) trip. The retreat occurs at a different Augustinian high school in the United States or Canada each year. Students spent the weekend meeting other Augustinian students, attending talks and workshops on our shared charisms—veritas, unitas, and caritas—spending time in reflection and prayer, and getting a chance to brainstorm projects for bringing back to Austin Prep a renewed enthusiasm for our Augustinian heritage. 

Pictured above is our SAVI XI delegation: (left to right) Ben Sperling '22, Ariana Clark '21, Drew Nedroscik '22, Yianni Andrikopoulos '23, Lily O’Neill '23, and Alyssa Vounessea '21. The students were accompanied by chaperones and SAVI club moderators Mrs. Leeann Blais and Mrs. Katie Brenninkmeyer.

Austin Prep Welcomes Two New Members to its Board of Trustees

commencement

Austin Prep announced the appointment of two new members to its Board of Trustees.  Mr. Michael H. Bravo P'18, '20 is the parent of Logan Bravo '18 and Catherine Bravo '20. He has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of engineering and systems management. A Licensed Professional Engineer, Mr. Bravo has extensive knowledge and background in business process development and FDA compliance knowledge.

Mr. Bravo received his B.S. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and completed his M.S. in engineering and management from MIT. 

Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D. is the President of Endicott College in Beverly, MA. A longtime leader in higher education and philanthropy, Dr. DiSalvo has held a number of executive positions in for-profits and non-profits with a track record of transformative success, primarily at colleges and universities throughout the United States. 

Dr. DiSalvo completed his Ph.D. in educational leadership at Fordham University, where he also earned an M.B.A. in marketing and a B.S. in psychology. 

Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D, P' 22, '23, '24 remarked, "Austin Prep is fortunate to have a talented and forward thinking Board of Trustees and we look forward to working with Dr. DiSalvo and Mr. Bravo to keep Austin Prep moving ahead on a pathway of excellence.” Both Mr. Bravo and Dr. DiSalvo have been appointed to a three-year term through November 2022. 

Rock Star Alum Returns to Campus

 Austin Prep welcomed back Britt Denaro '03 for a community meeting. A professional guitar player who has traveled the world, Britt, who goes by the stage name Britt Lightning, performed for students and encouraged them to follow their dreams.

Britt recalled being a student at Austin Prep when there were little or no arts programs, and told current students they are lucky to have the opportunities they currently enjoy at Austin Prep. She also described some of the challenges she has faced in her career, ranging from having to break through in a male dominated industry, and the process of auditioning for many bands before finding the right opportunity for her.

The highlight of the show was when Britt Lightning showed a clip of her performing "Fight Song" on Good Morning America with Rachel Platten. At Austin Prep, she played along live to the clip and was accompanied by many Austin Prep students in the crowd. After the show, Britt had lunch in the dining hall and visited with students in their respective arts classes.

"Mentors and teachers shape who you are, and I am grateful for all the support of the faculty and staff at Austin Prep," she said. "Leaders and innovators face rejection all the time but they don't let it stop them from following their dreams. You can really accomplish anything you can think of."

Austin Prep Breaks Ground on New Athletic Facility Complex

groundbreaking

Austin Prep held a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the start of construction on what will be a new athletic complex on the lower fields of campus. Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D., P'22, '23, '24 was joined by Dan Bouchard, P'10, '14, '15 Chair of the Board of Trustees, other members of the Board of Trustees, Austin Prep students and members of the school community for the event.

“Today is a big day for Austin Prep,” Dr. Hickey said to those in attendance. “It is the culmination of two years of hard behind the scenes work with the Town of Reading, Quirk Construction, and donors to make this project a reality. I also want to thank Austin Prep parents from the Town of Reading, who supported the school at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing last week.”

The project is being managed by Quirk Construction Corporation, a full-service construction company specializing in athletics facilities. The company’s CEO, David Quirk, '84 has credited his business success to what he learned as a student at Austin Prep.

The groundbreaking signified the beginning of work on a new synthetic turf baseball and soccer field complex to replace existing grass fields. The plans also call for the creation of six new tennis courts to replace the existing courts located in front of the school, along with drainage improvements, bleachers, an electronic scoreboard, a press box, dugouts, storage facilities, walkways, fences and lights. The new bleachers will be handicap accessible with seating capacity for 194 people.

The lower field project is the next phase in the development of athletic facilities at Austin Prep. Four years ago, the school completed work on a multi-purpose stadium project at the center of campus. Once the lower fields project is complete, the school plans to begin construction on the upper fields on campus, which will include a new softball complex and expanded parking.

59 Students Inducted into the National Honor Society

nhs

Fifty-nine students were inducted into the National Honor Society. Mrs. Stephanie Choate, National Honor Society Moderator, said, "Every person in this room and many others had a hand in the academic successes of these students before me. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. You’re here this evening because you embody Austin Prep’s mission in every way: your minds inquire, your hearts unite, and your hands serve. You have shown a commitment to the pillars of the National Honor Society: scholarship, leadership, character, and service, which are all important qualities of a successful person and that’s commendable."

National Honor Society President Catherine Bravo '20, welcomed NHS Officers Jessie Spada '20, Kayla Ellis '20, Katie Tarpey '20, Riley McHugh '20, who reflected on the four pillars of NHS: character, service, scholarship, and leadership. 

Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D. P'22, '23, '24 encouraged inductees to make the most of their opportunities in life. "Was I kind to others?  Did I sacrifice for those in need? Did I try to follow the commandments?  Did I ask for forgiveness when I was wrong?  Did I forgive others whether they asked it of me or not?  Do I set a good example with my life?  Do I inspire others with my words and deeds?" Dr. Hickey said. "Your induction into Austin Prep’s Chapter of the National Honor Society means that you have been deemed worthy of values and standards of the Austin Prep community.  The formation you received at Austin Prep has prepared you to answer these questions well and be proud of your answers."

Big Austin Prep Turnout for Red Bandanna 5k

Austin Prep continued its programming associated with The Red Bandanna by participating in the 15th annual Welles Crowther Red Bandanna 5k at Boston College last Saturday. The event brings together Welles' family, friends, BC alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends from all over the country to celebrate and honor his life.

Dan Ponsetto, Race Director and Director for the Volunteer and Service Learning Center at Boston College, welcomed participants and specifically referenced and thanked the 40 Austin Prep students, faculty, staff and parents who participated in the event. Prior to the race, the Austin Prep team was fortunate to meet with Mrs. Allison Crowther, Welles’ mother, for a group picture.


 

November

Austin Prep Honors First Responders at Blue Mass

Representatives from the Reading Police and Fire Departments, as well as first responders from the Austin Prep community, turned out for Austin Prep’s 4th Annual Blue Mass. The Mass is held annually in gratitude for all those who put their lives on the line for others.

“We all know a first responder, and today we stand with the first responders in the Reading and Austin Prep communities," James Hickey, Ph.D. P’22, ’23, ’24 said. “I extend our thanks to those first responders with us today, and pledge our resources to helping make your job easier." 

Austin Prep parents who are first responders were also on hand for the Mass, which was held on All Saints' Day. The homily was read by Augustinian friar Fr. Andres Nino, OSA, Ph.D., who drew parallels between the work of first responders and the Augustinian charism of Restlessness. 

After Mass, Fr. Nino blessed the emergency vehicles in the school parking lot and gave a special blessing to the first responders. Following the Mass, first responders enjoyed a full breakfast on campus. 

In Vino Veritas

We had a fun and informative "In Vino Veritas" evening hosted by Fr. Stephen Curry, O.S.A., Ed.D. of Merrimack College,  featuring light hors d’oeuvres and four wines from the Tuscan Region. Fr. Curry provided an extensive education into the world of wine tasting while adding perspective on our Augustinian values of veritas, unitas, and caritas. We look forward to welcoming Fr. Curry back to campus in the future!

Signature Event a Success

 

The 5th Annual Signature Event was another wonderful evening in support of Austin Prep.  This year, the event celebrated our Augustinian values of veritas, unitas and caritas with the theme "All You Need is Truth, Unity...and Love." The Signature Event hosted approximately 250 parents and raised over $50,000 to support programs and initiatives for students and faculty. This year was particularly exciting to have the winner of the Tuition Raffle in attendance at the event. Congratulations again to the Siano '23 Family! Additionally, we would like to recognize Mrs. Mannie Gouveia P'23, who worked tirelessly as this year's event chair. Thank you, Mannie! 

Chabra '20 and Frelick '20 Lead a String of NCAA Committments

Two notable Austin Prep senior student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers at NCAA Division I institutions.  Michael Chabra '20 signed his Letter of Intent to continue his lacrosse career at Providence College, and Frankie Frelick '20 signed her Letter of Intent to play softball at Duke University. Also signing celebratory letters of intent this year were Andrew Croteau ‘20, Nichols College, Baseball; Emily Hickey ‘20, The Citadel, Track and Field; Timothy Norton ‘20, St. Anselm, Baseball; Danielle Rich ‘20, St. Anselm, Soccer; Madeleine Rinklin ‘20, Sacred Heart, Ice Hockey; Lauren Sablone ‘20, Softball, Princeton; Eryn Taber ‘20, University of Southern Maine, Ice Hockey, Christopher Walsh ‘20, University of Albany, Football; Evan Zonderman ‘20, Alabama, Huntsville, Lacrosse.

24 Students Inducted into National Junior Honor Society

On Tuesday, November 19th, Austin Prep welcomed 24 seventh and eighth grade students as the newest members of the Austin Prep Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. Inductees embody the five pillars of the Society, which include scholarship, service, leadership, citizenship, and character.

At the event, Malerie Lague '25 and Madeline Shih '24 presented Mrs. Nicole Putney P'26 with the Inspirational Teacher Award.

Father Joe Visits Campus, Again...and Grants Us a Holiday, Again!

Fr. Joseph L. Narog, O.S.A., Vocations Director, Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, spent two days on campus, visiting with students, faculty and staff. His stay culminated with a Vocations Mass, where he was the celebrant. The remembrance month of November, which includes All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving, was a central theme for the Mass. "This is a month that leads us to think of the people and experiences in our lives for which we are grateful," Fr. Joe said. "You have a gift of being at a school where you can search for veritas, unitas, and caritas, and pursue a vocation, or a call of action, in search of love."

In showing his appreciation for the Austin Prep community, Fr. Joe concluded the Mass by proposing to James Hickey, Ph.D., P'22, '23, '24 an Augustinian Holiday for our School. Dr. Hickey agreed and approved! 

Annual Powder Powder Puff Game

Juniors and Seniors battled in the annual Powder Puff Football Game. The Juniors were coached by Mrs. Meghan Harkins, and the Seniors were coached by Ms. Nicolle Renick. The Senior Class prevailed, 26-6!

2019 Softball Team Awarded State Championship Rings and Headmaster's Medallion

The 2019 MIAA Division 3 State Champion Austin Prep Softball team was honored with the presentation of championship rings and the Headmaster's Medallion. Team members, family, faculty and staff were in attendance for the event. The softball team finished the 2019 season with a record of 24-2, defeating Turners Falls 3-0 in the State Championship on June 22, 2019. "Two things must happen to make for a championship season," Athletics Director Patrick Driscoll '97 said. "First, you must use the gifts and talents God has given you. And second, you must build strong friendships and relationships across the team. You, without a doubt, have done both."

 

James Hickey, Ph.D. P'22, '23, '24 presented members of the team with the Headmaster's Medallion, which recognizes members of the Austin Prep community who have exceeded expectations and achieved unparalleled results. A certificate presented to each team member read: "The Headmaster's Medallion is reserved for distinct occasions and rare moments to salute those who unquestionably exemplify Austin Prep's Augustinian values of veritasunitas, and caritas. The medallion, given at the discretion of the Headmaster, symbolizes a fellowship of Austin Prep community members who, through personal or collective achievements, have strengthened Austin Prep's heritage."

Class of 2019 Alumni Brunch

Austin Prep continued the tradition of welcoming back the past year's graduating class for an alumni brunch the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Members of the Class of 2019 gathered in the Dining Hall to connect with classmates, faculty and staff as a kick-off to the holiday weekend. 

Austin Prep Serves as Platinum Sponsor at Reading Tree Lighting

Austin Prep was proud to serve as the Platinum Sponsor for the annual Reading Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration hosted by the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce in early December. The Austin Prep Choir sang traditional tunes to get those in attendance in the Christmas spirit. 


 

December

Community Comes Together for Lessons and Carols

The Austin Prep community gathered for the annual Christmas tradition of Lessons and Carols. The evening included traditional Christmas hymns and carols by the Austin Prep Chorus and Austin Prep Band, as well as scripture readings and short passages about the true meaning of the season. The night showcased the talents of Austin Prep students, who were led throughout the performance under the exceptional direction of Mr. Joe Leary and Mr. Stephen Williams. 

After the event, the focus shifted to the Dining Hall for the Parents Association’s Cookies and Cocoa with Santa. Families enjoyed hot chocolate and treats while taking photos with Santa. 

Austin Prep Class of 2020 Travels to Walt Disney World

The Austin Prep Class of 2020 enjoyed their senior class trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The trip provided experiences not found in any book or classroom, and seniors created memories that will be among their best and that will last a lifetime. The Class of 2020 conducted themselves with the responsibility we expect, and exemplified Austin Prep values throughout the trip. 

The Nutcracker Tradition Continues

Richard J. Meelia Hall was filled for two performances of Austin Prep's annual production of The Nutcracker Suite. The production is a Christmas season tradition, having occurred on campus for the past 25 years. In addition to featuring the talents of our students, members of the faculty and administration performed on stage. Bravo to Mrs. Marla Pascucci-Byrne P'26 for orchestrating yet another successful production! 

Farrell Named St. Augustine Lumen Award Recipient

Ms. Elizabeth Farrell was named the fourth recipient of the St. Augustine Lumen Award. The Lumen Award was established by the Austin Prep Board of Trustees to recognize outstanding teachers. Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D. P’22, ’23, ’24 and Board of Trustees Chair Dan Bouchard P’10, ’14, ’15 presented Ms. Farrell with a certificate that noted  "Ms. Elizabeth Farrell places the holistic formation of students as the foundation of a life well lived in the vocation of teaching.  Inspired and inspiring, the St. Augustine Lumen Award Recipient is a beacon of light, bringing out the best in others and being a shining example of what it means to personify Austin Prep's mission.”

Annual Door Decorating Contest

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Students and Faculty alike put their creativity to work for the annual Holiday Door Decorating festivities. Groups of Christmas carolers also added to the festivities by adding holiday cheer to the hallways.


 

January

Austin Prep Choir Finds Inspiration in Journey to Rome

The Austin Prep Choir traveled on a week-long trip to Rome, where students had the opportunity to sing at Saint Peter’s Basilica and for Pope Francis during the New Year’s Eve celebration on Saint Peter’s Square.  The Austin Prep contingent consisted of a group of 60 students, administrators, faculty, and families who journeyed to the Eternal City for The 6th Youth and Adult Choir Festival.

During their trip, which took place December 27th to January 3rd, Austin Prep students attended the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated by Pope Francis and the Sunday Angelus. The Choir provided music for the Solemnity of the Holy Family at the Altar of the Chair of Peter and for the January 2nd Mass at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. The Choir also performed a concert at the Basilica of Saint Ignatius of Loyola for the people of Rome on New Year’s Day.

The highlight of the trip took place on New Year’s Eve. After his annual December 31st Liturgy, Pope Francis exited Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and walked into the piazza, where he was greeted by dignitaries and others in attendance. The Austin Prep Choir sang traditional Christmas hymns, which drew the Pope’s attention. He began to make his way to the Choir to listen to their song, touching the hands of Choir members and gesturing his welcome and prayers with his warm expression of Christmas joy to both Austin Prep students and their families.

To view a Vatican News clip of Pope Francis with the Austin Prep Choir, click here.

“New Year’s Eve 2019 will forever be remembered in the history of Austin Prep,” said Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D., P'22, '23, '24.

As the Austin Prep students returned to campus from their Rome travels, they began 2020 both inspired and enriched by their experience.

“It was an amazing experience to see the churches, sing for the Pope and to be able to travel with family and friends from school,” Olivia Doherty '22 said. “But more importantly, it was humbling to be able to take such a trip, and we are grateful for the special opportunity we were given. We are able to start the new year centered and re-connected”

Austin Prep Launches New Website

website

Austin Prep launched a new website, serving as an outstanding resource, providing timely, engaging and current information to existing families, while presenting prospective students with an in-depth introduction to our School. With an up-to-date design, all new images, and a better use of video content, the website provides a glimpse into the individual journey of each and every Austin Prep student.

Career Day Returns to Austin Prep

cuoco

Austin Prep welcomed the return of Career Day to campus. Over 40 alumni shared their professional experiences with students through panel discussions organized by profession, and a career fair including a resume-building help station.  Headmaster Dr. James Hickey, P'22, '23, '24 addressed students before breaking off into panel discussion groups. "Take advantage of this opportunity to interact and ask questions of our alumni. Have conversations not only with our alumni, but with each other." Hickey said. "Some things can't be learned from books alone."

Students had the opportunity to attend two panel discussion sessions, covering the following topics: Athletics, Broadcasting, Business Management/Finance, Career Services, Education, Engineering, Government, Health & Wellness/Science, Journalism/Writing/Communications, Law & Order, Performing Arts/Entertainment.

Austin Prep Welcomes Harvard Medical School Professor to Campus 

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Austin Prep was honored to welcome Khalid Shah, Ph.D. to campus for a community meeting. Dr. Shah is the Vice-Chair of Research for the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School. He directs the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging as well as the joint Center of Excellence in Biomedicine. He is the Principal Faculty at Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston.

Dr. Shah and his team have pioneered major developments in the Cell Therapy field, successfully developing engineering targeted stem cells and immune cells for cancer. These studies have been published in a number of very high impact journals like Nature Neuroscience, PNAS, Nature Reviews Cancer, JNCI, Stem Cells and Lancet Oncology. Previously, Dr. Shah's stem cell work has caught the attention in the public domain and as such it has been highlighted in the media world-wide including features on BBC and CNN.

Students Assist in Admissions Efforts

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Austin Prep students helped prepare special admissions packages for newly accepted students. Our students and Green Key Ambassadors always play a big role in the admissions process.


 

February

FBI Visits Campus, Provides Insight Into Career Opportunities

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Austin Prep was honored to welcome the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to campus. FBI Representatives spent several hours with Unitas Leadership Academy (ULA) students discussing hiring requirements, cyber and social media safety, and gang and terrorism prevention. This memorable opportunity provided Austin Prep students a brief glimpse into a unique career field which requires a broad range of education, experiences and skills.

Model UN Delegates Participate in Simulation at Harvard

model UN

Eighteen Model UN delegates from Austin Prep participated in the annual United Nations simulation presented by Harvard University at the Prudential Center in Boston. Representing Japan and Canada, the delegates debated global issues with over 4,000 other students from around the world, with 52 different countries in attendance. 

Spirit Week Brings Students Together in Support of Local Causes

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Spirit Week included themed dressed down days and charitable efforts, which resulted in the collection of a significant amount of goods for local charities. Most notably, the Austin Prep community collected over $14,000 in support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital! 

Dr. William Driscoll '89 Named Assistant Headmaster and Head of Upper School

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Austin Preparatory School  announced that William Driscoll ’89 was appointed Assistant Headmaster and Head of Upper School. Driscoll begins his new role on July 1st.

Mr. Driscoll joins Austin Prep from St. Peter-Marian Junior-Senior High School (SPM) in Worcester, MA, a school serving students in grades 7-12, where he spent the last eight years as Assistant Principal, Acting Principal, and Principal. Prior to these leadership assignments, Mr. Driscoll held a number of roles including teacher, advisor, campus minister, and theology faculty chair at St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg, MA. During his tenure in these schools, which are part of the Diocese of Worcester, Mr. Driscoll served on a number of committees that had responsibility for improving teaching and learning, including a committee that created a teacher evaluation protocol used by 23 schools.

As an alumnus of Austin Prep educated in the Augustinian tradition, Mr. Driscoll has a deep appreciation for the Augustinian values of veritasunitas, and caritas. “My family forged a strong relationship with Austin Prep because it transformed my life and left an indelible mark upon my soul,” Mr. Driscoll said. “As a graduate of Austin Prep, I continue to find inspiration from the ideals of an Augustinian education. The most enduring influence upon my career as an educator is drawn from the modeling I learned from the men and women who educated me.”

Mr. Driscoll earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Assumption College and a second master’s degree in education from Boston College. He concluded his doctoral studies at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College in May, and was awarded his doctorate in educational administration.

Annual Day of Service a Success

Austin Prep’s school-wide Annual Day of Service was dedicated to supporting our Armed Forces, both active-duty troops and veterans. Students paid respect to the sacrifice so many have made in service to our country and took time to reflect as they crafted thoughtful notes of support, gratitude, and encouragement. Students also created care packages for active duty service members, veterans, and their families.

Additionally, Austin Prep welcomed representatives from veteran outreach organizations. Francisco A. Ureña, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, thanked students for the work they were doing during the Day of Service, and emphasized the impact that care packages and notes of well-wishes have on members of our Armed Forces. Ryan Casavant, Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the Home Base Program/Mass General Hospital & Red Sox Foundation, reminded students of the challenges that military veterans sometimes face when returning to civilian life.  

Students Answer Questions From Prospective Parents

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Dr. James and Mrs. Cindy Hickey, P'22, '23, '24 hosted a dinner event at the Andover Country Club for the parents of accepted Upper School students. At this annual event, parents had the opportunity to meet fellow parents and interact and ask questions of the faculty and school administration in attendance. The highlight of the night followed dinner when parents were provided with the forum to ask questions of our student panel. Our students represented Austin Prep well and provided prospective parents a authentic glimpse into the Austin Prep experience. 

Catholic Schools Foundation Breakfast

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Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) Scholars were honored at a breakfast hosted by Cardinal Seán O’Malley and John Farina of PwC and CSF. The Celebration of Excellence was held in the Atrium of PwC’s Boston office in the Seaport.   Many supporters of CSF attended the breakfast to honor the scholars and celebrate their success.

The senior CSF Scholars were recognized for their accomplishments and hard work over the last four years. John Farina addressed the current seniors, encouraging them to keep pursuing their passions and educational efforts in college and beyond. Cardinal O’Malley addressed all of the scholars and CSF supporters with encouragement about the great work of the schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. 

CSF Scholars Josh Azor '20 and Julianah Torres '20 were accompanied by Mrs. Brenda Simblaris, Assistant Director of Admissions, at the event.

Girls Track and Field Claims State Title

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The Austin Prep Girls Track and Field Team had successful back to back weekends at MIAA state track and field meets.  On February 16th, the team captured the MIAA Division 5 State Championship, and followed that up with a second place finish in the MIAA All State Meet on February 22nd.

The highlight of the All State Meet was the individual performance of Lauren Sablone '20, who won the Girls 55 meter dash in a personal best time of 7.23 seconds. To watch Lauren's race, click here.

Filmmaking and Graphic Design Students Enjoy New Technology

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Sixteen 27" iMacs with Retina screens were installed in the Media iMac Lab, home of our Filmmaking and Graphic Design classes.   The appearance of the room was streamlined with modern design and fewer cables,  enabling much faster performance on rendering of video and accurate color reproduction for graphic design and photography. Students have individual logins allowing them to protect their work and they can use the full range of Adobe art and design software at home or in the library using their Creative Cloud Accounts.

"Students are free to use the most up to date Adobe software, and in just two days students have already started editing short films on Premier Pro and photo series through Lightroom and Photoshop. It has opened a world of possibilities," Ms. Jamie Schefen said. "Even the resolution of the screens give my students the ability to see their films like they never have before."

Austin Prep Faculty and Staff Attend NAIS Conference

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Austin Prep was well represented when independent school educators from across the country traveled to Philadelphia for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference. A total of 11 members of the Austin Prep faculty and administration traveled to Philadelphia to attend the conference. The annual event is typically attended by heads of school, trustees, teachers, and others in independent school communities looking to gain inspiration and knowledge about the field.


 

March

Student Qualifies for State Geography Bee Finals

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Ryan O'Malley '24 qualified for the National Geographic GeoBee Massachusetts State Finals. Ryan was one of 100 qualifiers for the State Championship, a first for Austin Prep.

Sablone Dominates New England Winter Sprint Scene

Austin Prep's Lauren Sablone '20 continued her hot streak on the track, winning the 55-meter dash and 300-meter dash at last Saturday's New England Championships. The wins follow her 55-meter title from the MIAA All State Meet a week prior.  The senior, who has committed to play softball at Princeton, registered personal bests of 7.14 for the short sprint and 39.55 for the 300-meter.

Middle Schoolers Answer Questions From Prospective Parents

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Dr. James and Mrs. Cindy Hickey P'22, '23, '24 hosted a dinner event in the dining hall for the parents of accepted Middle School students. Parents had the opportunity to meet fellow parents and interact and ask questions of the faculty and school administration in attendance. The highlight of the night followed dinner when parents were provided with the forum to ask questions of our student panel. Our students represented Austin Prep well and provided prospective parents an authentic glimpse into the Austin Prep experience.  

St. Augustine Lecturer Inspires Students to Build Community Through Caritas

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Dr. Crystal Kuykendall, a nationally recognized educator, attorney, author, and motivational speaker, shared experience and insights from her life journey with the Austin Prep community as part of the St. Augustine Lecture Series.  Dr. Kuykendall used the Augustinian value of caritas – or love – as the basis to “Presume Good Intent,” which is a central theme within the Austin Prep community. Her presentation was held in Richard J. Meelia Hall before an audience of Austin Prep students, faculty, and staff.

Dr. Kuykendall reminded students that love is an extraordinary force and blessing in our lives, and that no matter our background, it is the quality of relationships that we have in life that brings us joy. She emphasized the importance of developing leaders who can look past differences and help us search for and understand what is important in life.  

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“We live in a society with too much hate, too many divisions and differences that move us away from our common purpose, which is to embrace the similarities between us.” Dr. Kuykendall said.  “We need to understand that when we show reciprocity in love, friendship, and kindness we create communities that care.”

Named for Austin Prep’s patron saint, the St. Augustine Lecture Series began in 2015 and is designed to enrich the intellectual life of the school community by exposing students to accomplished individuals who share their experiences and lessons learned in life.

Coronavirus Concerns Close Schools

Bad times, good times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good.  We are the times:  such as we are, such are the times.
~St. Augustine, Sermons 
 

On Friday, March 13th, 2020 the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, closed Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the Archdiocese as a precautionary measure in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. That was followed on Monday, March 15th by a mandate from Governor Charlie Baker, ordering all public and private schools in Massachusetts to close for three weeks, from March 17th through April 7th. That mandate would eventually be extended through the academic year.  As a result, all in-person classes, athletics, and extracurricular activities at Austin Prep were cancelled through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Girls Hockey Crowned Co-State Champions

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The Austin Prep Girls Hockey team was crowned the MIAA Division I Co-State Champion by the MIAA. The team advanced to the State Final at TD Garden after a thrilling 2-1 semi-final victory over Braintree on Monday. The final seconds of the game can be viewed here.  

As a result of the conditions surrounding COVID-19, the MIAA Board of Directors met via conference call and voted unanimously to cancel the weekend state final games. As a result of this action, both Austin Prep and Woburn were named 2020 Co-State Champions.

"Congratulations on the success of your teams during this 2020 ice hockey season. The unprecedented conditions of the past days as well as the days and weeks ahead caused the MIAA BOD to make this decision for the safety of all student-athletes, coaches and school communities," The MIAA said in a statement released to both schools.

While disappointing, the team earned their second consecutive trip to TD Garden, after participating in the State Final in 2019. The team finished the 2020 season with a record of 21-1-2.  

Despite Closure, Teaching and Learning Continues Remotely

When Governor Charlie Baker announced in response to the growing COVID-19 crisis a three week suspension of school operations at all public and private elementary and secondary (K-12) schools in the Commonwealth, plans were already well in place to implement a remote teaching and learning plan at Austin Prep.

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In the week before the statewide order, staff from the Austin Prep Department of Technology set up over 70 brand new Apple MacBook Air computers, configured with all the tools needed to teach remotely in case of a school-wide shut down. At the same time that Gov. Baker made his announcement on Sunday, March 15th, Austin Prep Faculty were participating in web tutorials led by the Austin Prep Office of Academic Affairs using the videoconferencing app Zoom Cloud Meetings.

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From there, taking advantage of an already scheduled professional development day on Monday, March 16th, the laptop computers were deployed to faculty members on campus, and final plans were made for remote teaching and learning to commence on Wednesday, March 18th. Students were instructed to download the free Zoom Cloud Meetings App on their school issued iPads, and then received Google Calendar invitations from their advisors and teachers with individual links to enter virtual classrooms with their teachers and classmates. 

“I am extremely proud of and thankful for our faculty who are demonstrating ‘continuing education’ in action,” Head of Middle School Mr. Michael McLaughlin said. “Over the past couple of days, they have been learning how to navigate this videoconferencing technology in real time in order to be able to educate our students through frequent interaction and support.”

During this period of remote teaching and learning, Austin Prep followed a modified schedule of its Advisory Program and rotating academic block schedule. Classes were 45-minutes in length and allowed teachers to interact with their students and discuss concepts, skills, and assessments as well as maintain the connections students and teachers enjoy in class. There were four classes a day and advisory met on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“Our family would like to thank the entire Austin Prep faculty and staff for having the forethought, motivation and ability to get a distance learning program up and running for our students during the coronavirus outbreak,” Mrs. Karen Brabeck P’25 said. “Not only is it important to continue learning during this time, but it provides a sense of stability and ongoing community for our students who can remain connected with teachers, classmates and friends.”

Austin Prep Faculty have echoed that sentiment. “I am really grateful for the technology that we have at Austin Prep that allows me to be present in the lives of my students during this very challenging time,” English Department Chair Mrs. Nicole Putney P’26 said.

Remote Teaching and Learning Program Highlighted on WHDH 7News

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WHDH 7News  profiled the efforts of the Austin Prep remote teaching and learning program. The news story and broadcast can be viewed here. The story focused on the program's success in bringing a sense of normalcy to the lives of our students during the statewide school closure, and the efforts made by our faculty in educating themselves in a new way of teaching. Father Patrick Armano, School Chaplain and Dr. James Hickey P'22, '23, '24 were prominently featured, as was Ms. Elizabeth Farrell and Reporter John Cuoco '04. Ms. Farrell had Mr. Cuoco in her class when he was an Austin Prep student, and shared this fun virtual exchange. 


 

April

Gratitude

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The hard work of Austin Prep faculty and staff who helped launch a remote teaching and learning program in response to the school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not go unnoticed.  As a result of those efforts, many emailed words of thanks, support and encouragement.  Well wishes and public "Shout outs" were posted here on Austin Prep’s website for the whole community to see. 

Our Spiritual Community Gathers Virtually

 
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This spring, Father Patrick Armano, School Chaplain, celebrated Sunday mass remotely from the  Chapel of St. Augustine, including special Holy Week services. Even though our churches were closed, the virtual masses provided all our community the opportunity to come together in prayer during difficult times. We were joined by students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni for the masses.

Austin Prep Opens Remote Teaching and Learning Opportunities to New Students

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As students and families struggled with K-12 continuity of instruction across the United States, we welcomed 18 new students to the school community through an expansion of their already established remote teaching and learning program. The new students started classes on the first day of the 4th academic quarter. 

 “The middle school team has helped make this transition go smoothly for our son,” Susan Ellis P'20, '24 said. “We are impressed with their collaborative effort to acclimate students and put in a remote learning plan so quickly.”

 “Our new students are settling in wonderfully. They are all smiles and eager to get going,” English Faculty Leeann Blais said. “One of our new students is already exploring student club opportunities and we aren't even back in the building yet.”

New students echoed that sentiment. 

“The first few days of the Austin Prep remote learning program have been great! Going to class on Zoom has been a really fun way to be a new student. I feel like I am part of the community already but from my dining room,” Sydney Rech ’27 said. “My teachers have also been helpful during class and after class to check in to make sure everything makes sense. My advisor, Mr. Pollard has been checking in to make sure that I have everything I need. I feel like I am learning a lot already. I can already speak some Latin words thanks to Mr. McLaughlin!”

School Community Finds Additional Ways to Connect

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Austin Prep expanded the use of Zoom to include all areas of Student Life, including spirit week, Cougar Block, and community meetings. Students also had the opportunity to simultaneously watch premiers of the ever popular APS Media's "Midweek Update" on YouTube. 

Austin Prep Service to Others Continues During Pandemic

The Austin Prep Community came together to help those in need during this challenging time, including donating masks, writing letters to those in the hospital, and honoring our first responders and medical workers.

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May

Dancers, Vocalists, Musicians, Artists and Writers Showcased Virtually

As a result of not being able to have in person year-end art shows and performances, The Arts at Austin went virtual. Musicians, vocalists, and dancers brought their talents to the homes of our community members through two Art and Design Showcases. Student artwork was displayed virtually through this amazing compilation of artwork. The Spring 2020 edition of Austin Prep's Literary magazine, Tolle Lege, is available here.  Some of the contents include flash fiction, poetry, digital and traditional art and photography, student manifestos, short stories, and even an excerpt from a novel. We are really proud of our artists!

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art show2

 

tolle lege

 

Austin Prep Day of Giving Raises Nearly $270,000

 
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The Second Annual Austin Prep Day of Giving was an incredible success. The Austin Prep Community contributed nearly $270,000 to help support the Annual Fund. The generosity of our donors this year had an incredible impact as we aimed to secure the necessary funding to continue to support the training and technological needs of our remote teaching and learning efforts, and to provide greater financial assistance to our families in need. 

What a Senior Class!

 
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The Class of 2020 was an amazing class! While the year did not end as planned, that did not diminish the accomplishments of our senior class, and we enjoyed taking the time to celebrate them, from delivering lawn signs to their homes, recognizing our legacy families and our "lifers," and highlighting  the significant accomplishments of the Senior Class. The Class of 2020 has made their mark in Austin Prep history, as their contributions over the years have led to a better, stronger, and more vibrant school community. Austin Prep is so very proud of you.

Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2020

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Austin Prep celebrated a special Baccalaureate Mass in honor of the 154 members of the Class of 2020 from Father Seymour Field. It was the first opportunity for graduates, faculty, and staff to come together in person since the school closure mandate in mid-March. The special program was developed to allow for the community to come together for mass, culminating in the delivering of diplomas to members of the Class of 2020. 

The carefully planned event, which was formally approved by public health officials in the Town of Reading, became an option once the resumption of religious services under certain circumstances became a permitted activity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The mass was held outdoors and seniors were allowed just two parents to accompany them to mass. Families arrived in a single vehicle, and were assigned seats on the stadium field spread out with six feet separating them from other families. Masks were required, sanitizing stations were readily available, and congregating was not permitted. While attendance was limited, the event was live streamed for extended family and friends.

It was a beautiful day for our entire community. All the details from the day can be found here.


 

June

Senior Athletic Awards

seniorawards
The Class of 2020 had amazing talent and leadership from our student-athletes, and we are honored to recognize our Senior Athletic Award winners.  We are proud of their individual and team accomplishments, and grateful for their impact on campus. 

New Summer Session at Austin Prep

summer session

Building off the successful launch of Austin Prep’s Remote Teaching and Learning environment this spring, Austin Prep launched a Summer Session program, which is an innovative virtual program for both Upper and Middle School students that includes a series of engaging courses designed to sustain students’ enthusiasm for learning and maintain connections between students during the summer months.

A menu of enrichment courses approach a familiar discipline through a unique lens. Geography through the Zombie Apocalypse or Baseball and 20th Century American History will provide students with an opportunity to take a deep dive into topics as they think critically and creatively.

Introductory and review-style courses provide a sense of structure and support as students sharpen their skills and strengthen their academic foundation in Mathematics and World Language.
 

Middle School Final Assembly

class of 2024

 

Headmaster James Hickey, Ph.D. P'22, '23, '24, Head of Middle School Michael McLaughlin, and members of the Middle School Student Council welcomed eighth graders, families and friends to the Middle School Final Assembly celebrating the Class of 2024. Each member of the class was honored as a part of a slide show, and although the event took place virtually through Zoom, the evening offered a sense of normalcy, with familiar readings, faces, and even students in dress code! 

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The event ended with Nicholas Tauro '24, co-chair of the Middle School Student Council, presenting Austin Prep with a gift from the Class of 2024. Following in tradition set by middle school classes before them, the Class of 2024 presented Austin Prep with a holy water font for the Chapel of St. Augustine to match the one donated by the Class of 2023. The class looks forward to the blessings and the visiting of this sacred space on campus, once again. Congratulations to the Class of 2024, and best of luck as you continue on with your journey.

Lower Fields Athletic Complex

baseball field
Work on the lower fields athletic complex began in October and tremendous progress was made this academic year. The baseball field is complete and the tennis courts are ready for surfacing. Thank you to all our benefactors and support staff who have made this beautiful project a reality. 

Retirements and Departures

retirees

 

As the year came to a close, we said goodbye to three legendary figures in the Austin Prep community. The 2019-2020 academic year marked the final year at Austin Prep for Mr. Bob Hennessy, Mr. Gary Mackiewicz, and Mr. Bill Maradei, P'11, '12, who are retiring from teaching with a collective 121 years of service to Austin Prep.  For us to be able to honor three retirees with such distinguished service is humbling and we are grateful. 

We looking forward to honoring these three men with a campus celebration as soon as we have the ability to do so in a manner that will allow us to gather family, friends, former students and colleagues in an acknowledgement fitting for their service. In the meantime, for those who have inquired into sending gifts to Austin Prep in their honor, Mr. Hennessy, Mr. Mackiewicz and Mr. Maradei have requested that in lieu of personal gifts,  donations be made to the Austin Scholars Program, formally known as the Inner City Scholarship Fund.  Through your support, this fund is used to help provide scholarships to deserving inner-city students who otherwise would not be able to experience the Austin Prep journey. To learn more about the Austin Scholars Programs, as well as other scholarships at Austin Prep, click here. Donations to the Austin Scholars Program can be made by clicking here.

We would also like to recognize the following faculty and staff members who will be departing Austin Prep. Thank you all for your service to Austin Prep!

Mr. Akin Adeboye will be departing Austin Prep after one year of service. He has accepted a position at Milton Academy and is looking forward to returning to the boarding school environment.

Mr. Sean Brennan will be departing Austin Prep after three years of service. Mr. Brennan has been appointed President of East Catholic High School, Manchester, CT,  his alma mater.

Mrs. Katie Brenninkmeyer is expecting the birth of her first child, and will be departing Austin Prep after two years of service.

Mr. Brian Ford will be departing Austin Prep after four years of service. He is looking forward to being a full-time parent for his daughter.

Mrs. Laurie Francis will be departing Austin Prep after two years of service as a part-time teacher.

Mrs. Sarah Holch will be departing Austin Prep after one year of service, and will be relocating to Rhode Island with her family.

Mr. Jim Hutton will be departing Austin Prep after two years of service as a long term substitute, and is looking forward to spending time with his grandchild. 

Have a Great Summer!

We hope you enjoyed a look back at the 2019-2020 academic year, and we look forward to connecting with you again in the fall. Have a great summer!