Monthly Archives: March 2018

Two MSM Students Score 36 Composite on ACT

Two Mount St. Mary Academy students have scored the top possible composite score of 36 on the ACT pre-college test.


Anna Kate Manchester and Audrey Cummins, both juniors at Mount St. Mary Academy, earned the rarest of ACT scores this year. According to a report from ACT, Inc., only 2,760 students in the class of 2017, or 0.136 percent of all test takers, scored a 36.


The ACT is made up of four sections of multiple-choice questions, which test students’ knowledge in English, mathematics, science and reading. There is also an optional writing test that measures essay composition skills. Each of the four sections is graded on a scale of 1-36, and the Composite score is the average of the four multiple-choice test scores.


“My heart was pounding so quickly,” said Anna Kate. “I did not expect to get a 36 the first time I took it.”


Anna Kate said she initially took the test in seventh grade at Christ the King as part of the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP). When she signed up to take the ACT in June for the first time as a high school student, she bought a test preparation book and took multiple practice tests in math and science, the subjects where she felt she needed extra help.


Anna Kate plans to study international relations in college and has her sights on attending Harvard, Brown or Duke University. Her advice to underclassmen on taking the ACT is to try not to stress out about it.


“I think lots of people get in their own head,” said Anna Kate. “They try to rush through the test as quickly as they can, without paying attention to what it is the test is really asking them to do, because they’re just making sure they get it done in the time limit. I think taking a deep breath and sitting down and doing what you need to do is my best advice.”


Audrey’s preparation consisted of taking the ACT Test Preparation class offered at Mount St. Mary Academy during the first semester of the school year; she said her composite score improved by four points after taking the class. Audrey took the ACT in February for the fourth time and said her main goals this time were staying focused and raising all of her scores.


While currently taking a higher level math, AP Calculus, Audrey said the algebra and geometry they studied in the ACT Prep class were extremely helpful for reviewing information she had forgotten, and class emphasis on time-saving and test-taking tips and techniques assisted her in picking up her pace. For the English and reading sections of the test, Audrey expressed appreciation for the material she learned in ACT Prep from MSM English instructor Kathy Smith.


“In reading, she taught us to skim the questions before you read [the paragraphs],” Audrey said Ms. Smith taught them in addition to the English grammar rules and sentence structure, and she added, “So if one of the questions says vocab, you can go back to that line and write the question number to remind you to go back and do them when you read the line. Tricks like that.”


Audrey said she is still narrowing down her college choices and plans to attend the college trip Mount St. Mary is offering later this spring. She would like to study biology and medicine, and while some of the schools Audrey is considering include Pepperdine, UCLA, Georgetown and Washington and Lee, she is keeping her options open and looking into the college tuition savings and bigger opportunities that accompany her perfect score.


“I was completely surprised,” said Audrey about discovering she had made a 36 composite score. Even when others expected it from her, Audrey did not expect it from herself. On elevating what she thought was possible, she said, “I can achieve goals way higher than I ever thought I could.”





2018 Tuition Raffle Winner Announced

Congratulations to the Moreland family, this year’s winner of the Belle Booster Tuition Raffle. The second annual tuition raffle offered a chance to win a year of free tuition to parents of current students and 8th graders planning to attend Mount St. Mary Academy for the 2018-2019 school year. The drawing  was held on March 15 at the Mount St. Mary Academy Lip Sync.


The raffle proceeds benefit student clubs, organizations and athletic teams at Mount St. Mary Academy. Thank you to all the families who participated in the tuition raffle to support programs for MSM students!


Photo: Mount St. Mary 10th grader Naomi Moreland is announced the winner of the 2018-2019 tuition raffle, accompanied by MSM Special Events Coordinator Lauren Clay, Principal Angie Collins, President Karen Flake and Director of Institutional Advancement Kirsten Dickins.





Biology Class Attends Women in STEM Leadership Conference

On March 9, 2018, Ms. Johnson’s 4th period Honors Biology class attended a Women’s STEM Leadership Conference at University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. They were invited by Dr. Sederick Rice, biology professor and director of the UAPB ​​ STEM Center and a current MSM parent.


The keynote speakers were incredible professional women in various areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Mount St. Mary students also participated in various breakout sessions: DNA extraction, robotics and math methods.



MSM Senior Wins Top Art Award, Thea Scholarship

Meredith Muller, MSM senior and art student, won the first place $4,000 visual arts scholarship in the Thea Foundation annual scholarship competition. Each year the program awards 30 college scholarships totaling $79,500 to Arkansas high school seniors from across the state in order to impact the lives of the state’s youth through art. Thea scholarships are matched or exceeded by more than 20 education partners in the state and the region who may additionally match up to $20,000 over four years for first-place scholarship recipients.


More than 200 high school seniors from across the state of Arkansas entered the Thea Foundation 2018 visual arts scholarship competition, and only ten were chosen as recipients of scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $4,000. This years theme was, “A visceral moment, occluded by one’s intellect.”


Meredith’s self-portrait in oil, “Polarity,” depicted the confusing and tumultuous experiences involved in the transition to adulthood. Her Artist’s Statement described the struggles many adolescents face when deciding right and wrong “in a society full of moral grey area.”


Meredith described the red light cast on most of the subject’s body as leading away from good decisions, and she explained, “The ‘visceral moment’ depicted would be to want to follow the path of least resistance and go along with the rest of the body even if it leads somewhere damaging in the end.”  While the posture and positioning demonstrated the conflict within, Meredith explained that “the head alone is straining against the rest of the body to face the blue light, which symbolizes the logic, reasoning and intellect which combat those negative forces.”
Meredith’s painting was chosen the first-place winner on Saturday, March 3, when students gathered at the Thea Foundation in downtown North Little Rock to display their work to a panel of judges. Winners were selected based on the artist statement, interpretation of theme, and the originality and design of their work.


When asked what this experience has meant to her, Meredith said, “I’m super grateful overall, not just for the judging, but for everything in general — that I’ve been able to go to a school like this, to have the foundation to get me where I can pursue these things and succeed. Ms. Nolley’s an amazing teacher, and I probably never would have been able to thrive as an artist if I hadn’t had a teacher that noticed my potential and took the time to try to grow that.”


While Meredith said her plans will incorporate art at whichever college she chooses to attend, Thea scholarships are not awarded based on a student’s intent to major in the arts nor are they limited to the visual arts alone. High school seniors skilled in performing arts, film, fashion design, creative writing and slam poetry are encouraged to apply for scholarships as well. More information about Thea scholarships can be found on the Thea Foundation website:


The 2018 visual arts winning works are on display through April at the Thea Foundation in downtown North Little Rock.  Congratulations to Meredith and all of this year’s Thea scholarship recipients!






New Education Savings Opportunity for Catholic School Families

Did you know the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act expanded 529 savings plans to allow families to invest funds for K12 tuition in addition to higher education expenses?  As of January 1, 2018, up to $10,000 can be used from a 529 plan for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.​


A new fact sheet jointly issued by the National Catholic Education Association and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains the changes for parents of children in Catholic schools and answers many of the questions you may have.


Download the 529 plan fact sheet.






Six-Week Basketball Skills Academy for 4th-8th Graders

Spring Basketball Academy at Mount St. Mary Academy gives players in 4th through 8th grades the opportunity to build a basketball skill foundation and love of the game. Instructors will focus on fundamental basketball skills including dribbling, shooting, passing, defense principles, team and individual competition.


Sundays & Mondays, April 9 – May 20
MSM McAuley Center Gym, 5:30-7:00 p.m.


Monday, April 9
Sunday, April 15
Monday, April 23
Monday, April 30
Sunday, May 6
Monday, May 14
Sunday, May 20


Cost: $125 (6-week session)


Download a registration form here.


For more information, contact Coach Lauren Ramsey at









MSM Senior Receives President’s Volunteer Service Award

Sydney Casavechia ’18 has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.


The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. Mount St. Mary Academy nominated Sydney for national honors this fall in recognition of her volunteer service.


Sydney spent nearly 300 hours volunteering at Camp Aldersgate, an organization dedicated to serving individuals with special needs and senior adults in a camp environment.


“These kids have impacted me more than I have them,” Sydney said. “At first, I thought service was just ‘the act of helping others,’ but I now understand that how you apply yourself in someone’s life can actually alter your perspective and have a bigger impact on your beliefs.”


The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.


“The recipients of these awards demonstrate that young people across America are making remarkable contributions to the health and vitality of their communities,” said John  Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “By recognizing these students and placing a spotlight on their volunteer activities, wee hope to motivate others to consider how they can also contribute to their community.”


“Demonstrating civic responsibility through volunteerism is an important part of life,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “These honorees practice a lesson we hope all young people, as well as adults, will emulate.”


Prudential Spirit of Community Award applications were distributed nationwide last September through middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and Affiliates of Points of Light’s HandOn Network. These schools and officially-designated local organizations nominated Local Honorees, whose applications were advance for state-level judging. In addition to granting President’s Volunteer Service Awards, The Presidential Spirit of Community Awards selected State Honorees, Distinguished Finalists and Certificate of Excellence recipients. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria including personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.