Monthly Archives: May 2021

2021 Commencement returns to Robinson, celebrates 131 graduates

Members of the Class of 2021 officially became Mount St. Mary Academy’s newest graduates during this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 24. The special event returned to Robinson Auditorium in downtown Little Rock after having been temporarily moved to the football field at Catholic High School in 2020 due to COVID-19.


Per tradition, the young women wore white gowns and long gloves, and carried a single red rose, as they processed in through an audience of family members and friends and onto the stage. The 131 graduates, accepted to more than 100 colleges and universities, collectively received over $15 million in scholarship offerings and will be attending 37 different higher education institutions across 16 states this fall. Additionally, this year’s graduating class completed more than 10,000 hours of community service during its junior and senior years, proving that “living Mercy” remained a priority even through the challenges of a global pandemic.


Msgr. Lawrence Frederick, affectionately known as Fr. Fred, delivered the commencement address. In the same manner as his homilies, he began his address with a story, which ultimately encouraged each young woman to consider what she will do when faced with adversity in the future. Fr. Fred asked the graduates to rely on their Mercy values to help change their circumstances for the better – just as they’d successfully done during the past year. He also reminded them of these values’ importance in living a truly fruitful life. “If you follow the Mercy values that the school has taught you, you will have a life based upon the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, courage and temperance,” Fr. Fred said. “And those virtues will help you develop the person that God wants you to be, the person He intended you to be, and you will be serving Him the best way you can.”


Fr. Fred was introduced by Fourth Honor Graduate Sarah Cate Lay. Fifth Honor Graduate Sydney Austen offered the invocation, and Third Honor Graduate Anne Marie Coy presented the class essay, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” The salutatory address, “The Nerd, the Beauty, the Jock, the Rebel, and the Recluse” was given by Second Honor Graduate Brynne Johnson, and First Honor Graduate Chloe Gourde delivered the valedictory address, “Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club.” Like the iconic 1985 American teen drama film, The Breakfast Club, each of the top graduates’ addresses celebrated the individual talents of their classmates and their ability to come together as sisters, despite their differences, during their four years at Mount.


Bishop Anthony B. Taylor presented the diplomas as MSM President Pattie Davis and MSM Principal Sara Jones announced each graduate and the college she will attend. The three were joined on stage by Theresa Goshen Hall ’78, Catholic Schools superintendent, and Susie Whitacre, MSM Academy Board of Directors chairman. The evening concluded with graduates linking arms and singing the alma mater together one final time as a class.


The Class of 2021 chose the following words by Abraham Lincoln for its class quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As strong, confident women of wisdom, compassion and integrity, Mount St. Mary Academy’s newest graduates’ futures are sure to be bright.


Visit to view the video of this year’s Commencement Ceremony.


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

Scholarships and academic honors announced during Underclass Awards Ceremony

Mount St. Mary Academy was blessed to present 24 scholarships and awards totaling more than $50,000 during its annual Underclass Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 20. This year’s event was held virtually and livestreamed across campus for students, faculty and staff to watch from their classrooms and offices.


Dozens of additional academic honors were also awarded and celebrated. The school’s various academic departments honored the students’ accomplishments in the classroom, and their participation and achievement in clubs, organizations and other activities such as Student Council, Yearbook, Concert Belles and Odyssey of the Mind were recognized, as well.


During the ceremony, Susan Moore was recognized as this year’s recipient of the John and Patricia Bailey Family Distinguished Teaching Award for exhibiting overall excellence in teaching during the 2020-2021 school year. Mrs. Moore teaches Family and Consumer Science courses at MSM and also serves as advisor to the school’s award-winning Mercian Yearbook.


Congratulations to all of our outstanding students for their academic accomplishments, especially this year’s scholarship recipients (in order of appearance during event):


  • McAuley Achievement Award: Millie Allgood ’22, May Barnett ’24, Ellen Brady ’22, Olivia Coppens ’22, Alexis Coy ’23 and Kathyrn Morris ’23
  • Sr. Deborah Troillett, RSM ’73 Endowed Scholarship: Annie Wendel ’22
  • Mary Drake Scholarship: Megan Denery ’23
  • Spirit of ’95 Scholarship: Mimi Baldwin ’22
  • Class of 2009 SISTER Scholarship: Belle Mentgen ’23
  • Sandra Gueydan Hickey ’66 Scholarship: Ahmaya Graves-Young ’22
  • Alana Wolfe Memorial Scholarship: Ellen Brady
  • Wells Pre-Engineering Scholarship: Phoebe Johnson ’22
  • Judith Wrappe Scholarship: Grace Chastain ’22, Ashley Kassissieh ’24 and Cate Michaels ’23
  • Jennifer Boccarossa Music Scholarship: Belle Mentgen
  • Evelyn J. Coulter Thomas ’30 Scholarship: Sydney England ’22 (for fine literature), Gracie Limmer ’22 (for music) and Isabel Wilcox ’22 (for dance)
  • Bella Brown “THINK” Scholarship: Amaya Graves-Young
  • Melissa Ma ’98 Endowed Scholarship: Haley Draeger ’22
  • Ma Family Endowed Scholarship: Isabel Chaidez ’22


We also wish to thank the many donors who have so graciously created these endowed scholarships to assist students. In addition to the ones presented during the Underclass Awards Ceremony, additional scholarships totaling nearly $40,000 were given to seniors during the Senior Recognition Ceremony on May 19.


View the recording of the 2021 Underclass Awards Ceremony at


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

Senior Recognition Ceremony honors Class of 2021 accomplishments

Mount St. Mary Academy held its Senior Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, May 19, in the McAuley Center Gymnasium. The annual event, one of the final opportunities for the Class of 2021 to gather together before graduation, honored the individual and collective academic accomplishments of this year’s seniors.


Seventy-three percent of the Class of 2021 earned the academic status of Honor Graduate, having earned a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, and received a gold cord to wear at graduation. The top honor graduates awarded were: 1st honor graduate Chloe Gourde, 2nd honor graduate Brynne Johnson, 3rd honor graduate Anne Marie Coy, 4th honor graduate Sarah Cate Lay, and 5th honor graduate Sydney Austen.


Fourteen seniors were recognized for having participated in the rigorous AP Capstone program of study and received a purple and white cord to wear at graduation: Sydney Austen, Olivia Chambers, Ella Grace Connery, Anne Marie Coy, Savanna Delavan, Fran Edwards, Josie Fitz, Chloe Gourde, Tori Hughes, Brynne Johnson, Sarah Cate Lay, Abbey Moore, Mary Stevens, and Emily Van Ecko. Additionally, Anna Yanosick was recognized for her completion of the AP Seminar and Research certificate.


Laysha Cervantes received the 2021 Principal’s Award, given to an outstanding senior each year who has consistently demonstrated a Christian attitude, academic achievement, school pride and loyalty, service to others, and a total commitment to achieving her best during her time at Mount St. Mary.


Three MSM students were honored for receiving recognition by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation based on their PSAT performance their junior year. Chloe Gourde was one of just 14,000 seniors nationwide to be selected as a National Merit Finalist in 2021, which earned her a corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship from Raytheon. Additionally, Emily Roach was selected as a National Merit Commended Student, and Sydney Austen was named a recipient of the State Farm Companies Foundation Scholarship awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.


A number of honors were awarded from various academic departments and organizations as well as the Flora Bittner Croft Scholarship for MSM students attending a Catholic university and the Judith Wrappe Scholarship for the senior art submission that best portrayed the theme of “We Are Stronger Than We Know.” Recipients of this year’s Flora Bittner Croft Scholarship were Emily Roach and Madeline Zachritz. Elise Smith was awarded the Judith Wrappe Scholarship.


Seventy-seven seniors, more than half the graduating class, were recognized for their fine example in maintaining the highest standards of character, leadership, service and academic excellence as members of National Honor Society. Additionally, 71% of the Class of 2021 was honored for its participation in Beta Club, a national organization that emphasizes achievement, character and service.


We celebrate the many wonderful academic accomplishments of the Class of 2021!


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

MSM choral ensembles receive top scores at state festival

After the regional Choral Performance Assessment and State Choral Festival were both canceled last spring due to the pandemic, the Concert Belles and Harmony Belles were more than ready to showcase their talent in this year’s Arkansas Choral Directors Association (ArkCDA) events. Their hard work and dedication during a challenging year paid off as both choral ensembles qualified for the 2021 State Choral Festival at which they both scored all superior ratings and earned the highest scores in the state for their respective categories. The 25-member Concert Belles received Best in Class awards for 6A Medium Treble Chorus and 6A Medium Chorus Overall. The smaller Harmony Belles, with just five members, received Best in Class awards for 6A Small Treble Ensemble and 6A Small Ensemble Overall.


“I cannot explain just how excited, impressed and proud I am by the success of the Concert Belles and Harmony Belles this year,” said MSM Choral Director Chelsea Allman. “I get to hear these girls soar in class every day, so I am certainly not surprised. However, to have their talent affirmed by trained adjudicators and fellow musicians is incredible.”


Both events were held virtually this year, requiring participants to submit audio recordings in lieu of the traditional in-person performances. The Concert Belles and Harmony Belles each submitted two songs in March’s regional Choral Performance Assessment and qualified for the State Choral Festival in April by earning superiors ratings for their entries. The same process applied for the state event, except that the groups were each able to submit recordings for three songs.


“What impresses me the most is that these two groups were able to pull this off in the middle of a pandemic,” Allman said. “It has been really hard to make good music happen this year. We did not have a normal rehearsal, performance or procedure, but these girls stepped up despite all of the obstacles. I am especially proud for my senior choir members; they wanted success at CPA and State more than anyone, and they definitely deserved it. I am thrilled they were able to accomplish this and take back a piece of normalcy.”


To receive a “Division I – Superior” rating at the State Choral Festival represents “the finest possible performance for the event…worthy of the distinction of being recognized as among the very best,” according to the ArkCDA’s website. The Concert Belles have regularly received all superior ratings and Best in Class awards. However, this is the first year the Harmony Belles, a relatively newer group at Mount St. Mary, have earned such recognition. They advanced to the State Choral Festival for the first time in 2019.


Congratulations to Mrs. Allman and our 2020-2021 award-winning, best-in-the-state choral ensembles:


Concert Belles: Gabriella Angtuaco ’23, Blythe Bozeman ’21, Lillian Brooks ’23, Olivia Cordell ’22, Anne Marie Coy ’21, Fran Edwards ’21, Layne Edwards ’23, Abby Ellis ’21, Vivian Fischer ’23, Maya Henry ’23, Allie Keene ’21, Caroline Lauer ’21, Gracie Limmer ’22, Patty Logan ’21, Belle Mentgen ’23, Grace Moody ’24, Mari Negrete ’22, Beatrice Nkunga ’23, Cabe Parrish ’21, Grey Parrish  ’23, Sophia Parrish ’22, Elizabeth Pellicciotti ’22, Reilly Principe ’21, Camilla Ricaurte ’22 and Natalie Vailes ’22


Harmony Belles: Ella Burdine ’24, Aubree McCullough ’24, Taylor Moore ’24, Neaven Nichols ’23 and Clara Principe ’24


In addition to the group accolades, 23 Belles earned All-Region and All-State recognition for their exceptional singing ability this year. According to the ArkCDA’s website, the selected students represent some of the finest musicians in the state.


2020-2021 All-State Choir members: Grace Moody, Beatrice Nkunga, Cabe Parrish and Reilly Principe


2020-2021 All-Region Choir members: Gabriella Angtuaco, Blythe Bozeman, Olivia Cordell, Anne Marie Coy*, Fran Edwards, Layne Edwards, Abby Ellis, Vivian Fischer, Allie Keene, Gracie Limmer, Patty Logan, Aubree McCullough*, Belle Mentgen*, Mari Negrete, Grey Parrish*, Sophia Parrish*, Clara Principe, Camilla Ricaurte and Natalie Vailes


*qualified to audition for All-State Choir


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

Junior Concert Belle Selected for AGS Summer Program

Camilla Ricaurte, a junior at Mount St. Mary Academy, is among the select group of rising high school seniors chosen to attend this year’s Arkansas Governor’s School (AGS), one of the state’s most prestigious academic traditions. Founded in 1979 by then-Governor Bill Clinton, AGS is a four-week summer residential program for gifted and talented students that provides a unique supplement to the typical high school curriculum. A member of the award-winning Concert Belles, Camilla was selected for the program based on her special aptitude in the field of choral music.


Eligible students must be nominated by their schools in order to apply for AGS. Students are selected to attend on the basis of their abilities and interests in a particular intellectual discipline or artistic field, and about two-thirds of each student’s class time during the summer program is devoted to this selected area. All students also pursue classroom work and reading in General Conceptual Development and in Personal and Social Development.


According to its website, “AGS provides highly motivated, creative students with an intellectual atmosphere impossible to sustain in ordinary academic settings. Students are led to explore cutting-edge theories in the arts and sciences and to develop a greater understanding of how art, culture, and knowledge change with time. Students are challenged to develop the rigorous creative and intellectual skills that will be critical to their leading the ideal ‘life well lived’ and for making positive contributions to their communities and to society at large.”


AGS serves up to 400 of Arkansas’ best students. This year’s program will take place July 5 to August 1 on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville.


Congratulations, Camilla, on your selection to the 42nd annual Arkansas Governor’s School!


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.

Mount St. Mary honors sports teams, student-athletes and coaching staff

More than 200 guests gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock on Monday, May 10, to honor and celebrate Mount St. Mary Academy’s sports teams, student-athletes and coaching staff during the school’s annual Athletic Banquet.


Coaches introduced their respective teams during the event and presented the traditional awards for each player based on her years of participation. First-year players received a certificate, second-year players were given a MSM letter and symbol of the sports in which they played, third-year players received the coveted white sweatshirt with their name and sports monogrammed on the sleeves, and fourth-year players were gifted a wooden memento box engraved with their athletic accomplishments.


The recipients of a handful of special awards, which are selected by MSM athletic staff, were also announced during the banquet. This year’s winners include the following:


  • Msgr. Keany Award: Millie Allgood ’22
  • Donnie Bridges Award: Hannah Denery ’21
  • Sr. Phillipa Athletic Award: Abbey Moore ’21
  • Sr. Mary Phillipa Parent Award: Meredith Snape
  • Sr. Phillipa Manning Memorial Scholarship: Libby Franks ’21
  • Mary Drake Award: Isabelle Todd ’22
  • Purple Heart Award: Olivia Chambers ’21 and Katie Wilcox ’21
  • Vassar-West Scholarship: Isabel Chaidez ’22
  • Marilyn Lenggenhager Passionate Athlete Award: Haley Draeger ’22
  • Manager of the Year: Mia Aquino ’22 and Becca Besier ’22
  • Most Valuable Freshman Award: Madeline McNeill ’24
  • Most Valuable Belle: Chloe Gourde ’21


Thirty-one student-athletes were recognized as Four-Year Scholars, having participated in athletics for all four years of high school and graduating with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. Chloe Gourde was awarded the Top Scholar Athlete Award for maintaining the highest academic average while also participating in the athletic program at Mount.


MSM Athletic Director Lane West honored the coaching staff at the event, as well, and paid special tribute to two members who are retiring from their coaching duties this year: Stephanie Boccarossa Pierce ’06 and Ashley Boccarossa McNatt ’03, who have dedicated 14 years and 4 years, respectively, to coaching soccer at their alma mater.


Congratulations to all of this year’s hard-working and dedicated student-athletes and their coaches.


Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.