Monthly Archives: May 2017

Class of 2017 “on their way” after graduation

Mount St. Mary Academy students faculty, staff and their families and friends celebrated the Class of 2017 graduation at the Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at Robinson Auditorium. The words of the class song, “On My Way” by Phil Collins, described the feelings of excitement and anticipation felt by the 120 graduates, who received their diplomas from the Reverend Bishop Anthony Taylor as MSM president Karen Flake announced each graduate and the college she will attend. They were joined on stage by superintendent of Catholic schools, Mrs. Vernell Bowen; MSM principal, Mrs. Angie Collins; and chairman of the MSM Academy Board of Directors, Mr. Phillip Gillam.


Commencement Speaker Patti Drake urged the Class of 2017 to stay centered in faith as they enter a new chapter of their lives. Ms. Drake’s daughter Mary, a member of the Class of 2011, suffered a debilitating car accident in 2009. Ms. Drake spoke to the class about trusting the Lord in times of difficulty because God causes all things to work together for good for those who follow Him. She pointed out to them that His plans may not be the same as their plans but “God is good. All the time.”



Congratulations to the Class of 2017:


92% of 120 SENIORS offered scholarships from colleges and other institutions


More than $14 MILLION in college scholarships awarded to the Class of 2017


10,945 HOURS of service to the community completed during their junior and senior years


Members of the senior class offered acceptance to 207 COLLEGES and UNIVERSITIES



More photos from the 2017 Mount St. Mary Academy Commencement Exercises:





Senior Recognition Ceremony awards accomplishments, inducts 120 alumnae

The Mount St. Mary Academy Alumnae Association gained 120 new members at the Senior Recognition Ceremony held on Monday, May 22. Attended by MSM families, alumnae relatives, and alumnae board members, the ceremony honored the accomplishments of the senior class and inducted the Class of 2017 into the MSM Alumnae Association.


Sixty-eight percent of the senior class earned the academic status of Honor Graduate with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The top five honor graduates in the class who will speak at the 2017 Mount St. Mary Commencement Ceremony on May 25th are: 5th honor graduate Anne Thibault, 4th honor graduate Chloe Beall, 2nd honor graduates Katie O’Malley and Caroline Coplin-Chudy, and 1st honor graduate Claire Althoff.


Four MSM students received recognition by the National Merit Program during the 2016-2017 school year. Hannah Isaacs and Chloe Beall were selected as National Merit Finalists, Katie O’Malley was selected as a National Merit Commended Student and Rosemarie Ochoa earned the status of National Hispanic Scholar. Each of these young women represent the top five percent of the more than 1.6 million students who entered the National Merit competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Qualifying Test as 11th-graders.


A number of academic honors, merit awards and scholarships were awarded to many deserving MSM students in the Class of 2017. Caroline Coplin-Chudy received the 2017 Principal’s Award for living the Mercy values at Mount St. Mary. The Flora Bittner Croft Scholarship was given to three MSM students attending Catholic universities, and the Judith Wrappe Scholarship honored one senior for her artwork depicting this year’s theme of “Sisterhood.”


Melanie Parham Fox ’81 was recognized as the 2017 Mount St. Mary Academy Alumna of the Year for her contributions to the school and the community in the educational arena and for her volunteer work with MSM spirit groups and booster club initiatives as well as leadership in spearheading the merchandise system for Mount St. Mary.


More photos from the Senior Recognition Ceremony:



Junior Takeover Day: What a Circus!

photo by Caty Nosal, MSM yearbook


The Mount St. Mary Academy Class of 2018 celebrated their “graduation” to the senior class at Junior Take Over Day (JTOD) 2017: Senior Circus. The mimes, animals, cotton candy, ring leaders and plenty of clowns gathered before school to have breakfast together and decorate their cars and the school with signs to “Step Right Up to the Senior Circus.”


View photos from Junior Take Over Day:




Science in action with field trips, speakers

MSM science classes were busy this spring with several field trips and speakers that provided practical applications of concepts learned in class.


Ms. Melandri and Ms. Johnson took their honors physical science and IB biology classes to participate in the Girls STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Conference held April 21st at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


To supplement the unit on water, Ms. Johnson’s fifth period chemistry students visited Lake Degray in Arkedelphia, and the MSM students taught 4th grade students from the Hot Springs School District about water quality and water quality testing. The day at the park was part of the Every Kid in a Park campaign, a national initiative created by the White House and the Federal Land Management agencies to help engage and create the next generation of park visitors.


Learning about nuclear power and nuclear radiation, Ms. Johnson’s third period class made a trip to Nuclear One in Russellville.  The students  participated in a discussion with the training staff on


  • Energy Options (Solar, Wind, Hydro, Nuclear)
  • How ANO produces power (operation)
  • Costs of energy production
  • Career Options in Nuclear power
  • Accidents (What we have learned)


After the lecture, students visited simulators which replicated actual control rooms and also experienced what it is like to “suit up” for a contamination area.


Ms. Johnson’s fourth period class received a visit from guest speaker Dr. Leanne Jolly, a phD nurse and nutrition counselor from the Little Rock Athletic Clubs organization. To supplement the unit on food as energy, Dr. Jolly spoke to the students about the importance of nutrition and exercise.


Mr. Stotts’ anatomy class visited the Museum of Discovery, where students learned about guts, bones, skin, blood and more in the Amazing You gallery with activities that explore how their bodies function.


Two MSM students accepted to UAMS HEALERS program

Must be Mount Girls!  Cameron H. ’19 and Lexi C. ’18 were accepted to the UAMS HEALERS program (Health Education Active Learning Experience for Regional Scholars). The HEALERS program is a hands-on, interactive program open to high school students in Pulaski County who are interested in serving the community through the medical field. Out of hundreds of applicants only twelve students are selected each year to participate in the program; this year’s HEALERS program will be held from June 12 to June 23, 2017.


The HEALERS program allows students to:


  • Learn and ask questions about a variety of medical careers directly from a professional in that field.
  • Learn how to administer first aid to accident victims to include bandaging, control of bleeding, splinting and spinal immobilization.
  • Learn how to administer Basic Life Support (CPR).
  • Demonstrate a better understanding of medical terminology.
  • Demonstrate an increased awareness of teenage health-related issues, enabling each individual to make better informed decisions based on scientific data.
  • To gain experience in a clinical setting through active volunteering.


Congratulations, Cameron and Lexi!



Summer Camps at the Mount for 2nd to 9th grades

Mount St. Mary Academy will be offering eight fun and exciting summer camps for both girls and boys entering 2nd to 8th grades as well as sports camps for girls entering ninth grade.


Camps include volleyball, basketball, math, pinterest/crafts, drama, media, creative writing and cooking, so keep up your skills this summer or try something new! Most camps are half-day camps and may be combined for a full day of camp fun with an hour lunch break provided.


Pricing and information may be found on the downloadable registration form at 


Please email
and mention the camp name to find out more information!




May Publications Feature “Head of the Class” Graduates

During the month of May, several Mount St. Mary Academy seniors were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements.


The Arkansas Times selected Caroline C. to be included among the twenty-one 2017 Academic All-Stars honored as the “best and brightest high school students in the state.”  The Academic All-Stars were honored on April 24th at a ceremony at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with plaques and $250 cash awards. Read more in the Arkansas Times article.

May issue of Arkansas Times: 2017 Academic All-Stars


Claire A., Caroline C. and Katie O. appeared in the “Head of the Class” feature of the May issue of Little Rock Family, which highlighted many talented students from high schools throughout Little Rock and the Central Arkansas region. Read more at Little Rock Family.

May issue of Little Rock Family: 2017 Head of the Class


We congratulate these young women, and all of our graduates, for their hard work and academic achievements as well as their extracurricular and volunteer contributions in our state.


Closing Prayer Service Signals Goodbyes for Many

The Closing Prayer Service at Mount St. Mary Academy has always elicited fond memories, class unity and yes, some tears, and this year’s service was no exception for the Class of 2017. The students, faculty, administrators and Sisters of Mercy gathered as a school community one last time with this year’s seniors to celebrate the gift of the past school year and look forward to next steps on the journey.


Monsignor Frederick began the prayer service by telling the seniors that it was time for them to GO to spread God’s mercy and live their faith as they move into the next phase of life.


Student Body President Grace Clark ’17 remembered the last four years with her classmates and how they have grown into the sisterhood she didn’t think was possible when she entered the school as a freshman. She recalled the challenges and the events that have bonded their class as well as the teachers and leaders in faith who have led them through adversity, and she thanked the student body for her opportunity to serve as their leader.


Three teachers were thanked for their exceptional service to the school as they move on to new chapters of their lives:

Kara Tobey, math instructor

Olivia Dumboski ’08, social studies instructor

Mary Logan, social studies instructor


The Closing Prayer Service marked the “end of an era” for a few different reasons. Included with the goodbyes to the seniors, Mary Logan announced her retirement after having taught at Mount St. Mary Academy for the past 37 years. And, after 166 years of Sisters of Mercy residing on the campus of Mount St. Mary Academy, the student body bid farewell to the last two Sisters in residence.  Sr. Ann Hardcastle ’54 and Sr. Jolitta Konecny ’55 were honored for their years of service to the school community as it was announced they will be relocating to the Sisters’ retirement home in Barling, Arkansas.


Lifting everyone’s spirits were the well wishes from students in the freshmen, sophomore and junior classes before Caroline Wahlgreen ’17 gave an entertaining recollection of the past four years, and then, final traditions concluded the time at the Mount for the Class of 2017. Seniors were called to receive their graduation tassels the last symbolic gift in a four-year tradition at Mount St. Mary Academy following freshman mercy cards, sophomore mercy pins and junior class rings. After the seniors sang their class song, the service ended with a surprise performance by an ensemble of MSM teacher singers and musicians.


Just as each class enters through an honor guard of their schoolmates at their first all-school prayer service, the seniors conclude their last day on campus by exiting through an honor guard made up of their teachers and administrators. Spending their final time together with words of gratitude and encouragement, they ended their last day and their time at Mount St. Mary Academy and set off on the weeks leading up to graduation.


More photos from Closing Prayer Service:





Mercy Moments Event Celebrates Sisters’ Legacy at Mount St. Mary Academy


Twelve Sisters of Mercy left Ireland in 1851 with Arkansas’ first Catholic bishop, Bishop Andrew J. Byrne, to set up a school for children in Arkansas that would come to be known as Mount St. Mary Academy. One hundred sixty-six years later, thirteen Mercy Sisters gathered to celebrate the 80th birthdays and relocation of the last two Sisters in residence at the school and to honor the Mercy legacy on the school’s campus.


At Mercy Moments on Our Journey, held Sunday, May 7 in the Mount St. Mary Convent in Little Rock, three Sisters of Mercy were honored for their years of service and ministry:  Sr. Jolitta Konecny, Sr. Ann Hardcastle, and Sr. Joan Pfauser. Sr. Jolitta and Sr. Ann are both graduates of the school and past faculty members who will be relocating from the Mount St. Mary Convent to the Sisters’ retirement home in Barling, Arkansas. Sr. Joan, also a graduate, will continue as one of the school counselors to bring the daily presence of Mercy to Mount St. Mary Academy.


Past principals of the school Sr. Richard Mary Burke, RSM and Sr. Deborah Troillett, RSM were in attendance at the event to reflect with gratitude and give thanks to God for the school’s 166-year history and to offer prayers and affirmation for the future. Relaying a message from the Sisters of Mercy leadership team for the South-Central Community, Sr. Richard Mary announced that the convent has been deeded to the current ministry and school leadership at Mount St. Mary, proclaiming that it has been a blessing to all of the Sisters, for which they give thanks and say “yes!” to all that will be.


“Catherine McAuley said of our journey as Sisters, ‘We have one solid comfort amidst this little tripping about: our hearts can always be in the same place, centered in God for whom alone we go forward — or stay back,’” said Sr. Deborah, member of the Institute Leadership Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “While there was sadness in me to say goodbye to the Sisters living in the convent, there is also joy in knowing that the Sisters of Mercy will go forward so deeply enriched by the partnership with our many lay colleagues who lead and serve at Mount St. Mary Academy. I feel great confidence and gratitude that the school will continue to respond to the new needs of the young women served and the convent building will inevitably be utilized in a way to meet some new unmet need!”


Mount St. Mary Academy President/CEO Karen Flake thanked the Sisters and expressed that “because of their tremendous impact, the spirit of God’s mercy will always be present at Mount St. Mary Academy.” She assured there were no immediate plans to change the way the convent is being used at Mount St. Mary Academy and said the board of directors is currently in the process of reviewing the master plan.


During refreshments and “a comfortable cup of tea” with the Sisters, an impromptu rendition of the school’s alma mater was sung by many of the 60 guests present, which included alumnae, parents, and friends of the school, Mercy Associates, and Sisters of Mercy from throughout the region. There are currently six Sisters of Mercy serving on the academy and foundation boards and one staff member serving at Mount St. Mary Academy.


Front Row: Sr. Ann Hardcastle, Sr. Elisa Bauman, Sr. Jolitta Konecny, Sr. Jacqueline HowardBack Row: Sr. Judith Keith, Sr. Deborah Troillett, Sr. Carol Ann Corley, Sr. Cheryl Quave, Sr. Richard Mary Burke, Sr. Rebecca Hendricks, Sr. Noeline Banks, Sr. Joan Pfauser, Sr. Teresa Kelone



More photos from Mercy Moments on Our Journey:




College Signing: Belle to play basketball for OBU

Another Belle has signed to play basketball at the collegiate level. Kara R. will be playing for the Ouachita Baptist Tigers in the fall. Kara played four years as point guard for the Mounties and Belles. She was a two-year varsity starter and played in the Central Arkansas Showcase game.


Kara is the third Mount St. Mary basketball player this spring to commit to continuing her athletic career at the college level. Mary R. signed to continue her academic career and play basketball for Hendrix College on April 18 and Lizzie A. signed with Lyon College on April 25.


For photos from all spring signings, please visit


Congratulations, Kara!