Monthly Archives: May 2022

108 diplomas awarded at 2022 Commencement

The Mount St. Mary Academy Class of 2022 received their diplomas and officially graduated from high school during this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 24, at Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock. 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 108 graduates, admitted to nearly 100 colleges and universities, collectively received over $13 million in scholarship offerings and will be attending 37 different institutions of higher education across 15 states this fall. Additionally, this year’s graduating class completed 8,823 hours of community service for the greater Little Rock community during its junior and senior years, proving that “living Mercy” remained a priority even through the challenges of a global pandemic.


Donna Chachere ’83, business systems developer at UAMS and adjunct professor at UA Little Rock, delivered the commencement address. After praising their perseverance through the challenges of the past few years, Ms. Chachere encouraged the graduates to “spread a little of your Mount St. Mary experience to your new communities” by continuing to serve those in need and continuing to always show Mercy – to others and to themselves. She also reminded the young women to trust God’s direction for their lives. “I know most of you have a plan for the future. As Mount Girls, we are prepared. But be accepting of God’s plan also,” she said. “Sometimes what we may perceive as a failed plan is really God leading us to a better conclusion.”


Ms. Chachere was introduced by Third Honor Graduate Lucy Nimmo. Fourth Honor Graduate Savanna Hindman offered the invocation, and Second Honor Graduate Sydney England presented the class essay. The valedictory addresses were given by First Honor Graduates Millie Allgood and Eleanor Lewis.


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


View photos from this year’s Commencement Ceremony at


Congratulations, Class of 2022! We celebrate you and look forward to seeing all you continue to accomplish as women of wisdom, compassion and integrity.


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 principal named head of school

Sara Jones, current principal at Mount St. Mary Academy, has been selected to serve as the school’s first head of school, effective June 1, 2022. The newly ratified position replaces that of the president as the chief leadership role at the 171-year-old all-girls Catholic high school.


“On behalf of the Mount St. Mary Academy Board of Directors, I am honored to announce the selection of Sara Jones as the new head of school,” said Board Chair Susie Whitacre. “Having served as principal and assistant principal for the last seven years, Sara is the best person to lead the Mount community into our historic school’s next exciting chapter. She has shown exceptional leadership skills during her time at Mount and exemplified the Mercy values so vital for this important role.”


As head of school, Jones will work with three boards of directors connected to the school (the Mercy Education Board, the Academy Board and the Foundation Board) as well as Mount St. Mary Academy’s administrative team to foster an environment of excellence in all operations that is centered in Catholic tradition and guided by the school’s rich heritage of Mercy education. She will be responsible for the effective day-to-day management of the school, for ensuring the provision of academic leadership and strategic vision, for maintaining a financially sustainable organization, and for upholding the quality of the overall student experience.


“We know Sara will uphold the Sisters of Mercy tradition of developing young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic faith, and she will use her energy, wisdom and strength to continue to create the best academic experiences possible for all of our students,” Whitacre said. “Our Board fully supports Sara Jones, and we are grateful for her acceptance of this key leadership role.”


Mount St. Mary Academy is a sponsored ministry of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and is a member of Mercy Education, which includes 55 schools in six countries and one territory. Jones’ selection as head of school comes with the backing of both organizations.


“We have great confidence in Sara as she steps into her new role at Mount St. Mary Academy. Her demonstrated commitment to Mount’s mission and to integrating the Mercy charism, including the Mercy values and Critical Concerns, into the everyday life of the school lays a strong, faith-filled foundation for her future service to the school community,” said Sister Lisa Griffith, RSM, executive director of Mercy Education.


Before being named Mount St. Mary Academy’s principal in June 2019, Jones served as assistant principal at the school for four years beginning in June 2015. She has worked in various administrative and teaching roles in Catholic education in Arkansas for nearly 20 years. Jones earned a Master of Arts degree in teaching in 2013 and an Educational Specialist degree in August 2015, both from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. She is also an Arkansas licensed K-12 Building Level Administrator. Mrs. Jones and her husband, Larry, are members of St. Theresa Church in Little Rock. Their son, Adam, is a rising sophomore at Catholic High School.


“I am truly honored to receive this opportunity,” Jones said of her new role. “Mount St. Mary Academy is a phenomenal institution, as evidenced by her 171-year presence in Little Rock. It’s very exciting to be given the chance to help lead MSM into the future while continuing to work together with this special community. I am incredibly blessed.”


Jones will succeed Dr. Pattie Davis, who has served as president of Mount St. Mary Academy since June 2019, as the school’s top administrator. Dr. Davis announced to the Mount community earlier this spring that she would not be returning at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. She was named the new Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Baton Rouge in Louisiana in March.


(PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Masters)


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.

More than $100,000 in scholarships awarded during Underclass Awards Ceremony

Mount St. Mary Academy was blessed to award 26 scholarships totaling nearly $104,000 to students during its annual Underclass Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 19, in the McAuley Center Gym. Donors of several the endowed scholarships were in attendance to help present the awards to this year’s deserving recipients, which made the event even more special.


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, newspaper, the fine and performing arts, and Odyssey of the Mind were recognized, as well.


During the ceremony, Rachel McLemore was recognized as this year’s recipient of the Bailey Family Distinguished Teaching Award for exhibiting overall excellence in teaching during the 2021-2022 school year. In addition to teaching social studies courses at MSM, Ms. McLemore is the Sophomore Class Sponsor, coaches the Cross Country Belles and Quiz Bowl team, and serves as advisor to several students organizations, including Model UN, Students of Color Alliance and Young Changemakers Club.


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: Elizabeth Hunter ’24, Amaria Love ’25, Kathryn Morris ’23, Lindsey Morris ’25, Isabelle Nguyen ’25 and Eliza Spellins ’23
  • Sr. Deborah Troillett, RSM ’73 Endowed Scholarship: Lilli Brooks ’23
  • Mary Drake Scholarship: Eliza Jane Null ’24
  • Spirit of ’95 Scholarship: Sarah Rounsaville ’23
  • Class of 2009 SISTER Scholarship: Belle Mentgen ’23
  • Sandra Gueydan Hickey ’66 Scholarship: Autumn Moss ’23
  • Alana Wolfe Memorial Scholarship: Millie Ketcher ’23
  • Wells Pre-Engineering Scholarship: Megan Denery ’23
  • Wells Summer Engineering Academy Scholarship: Savannah Eanes ’24
  • Judith Wrappe Scholarship: Cat Michaels ’23, Savvy Straessle ’24 and Ann Marie Nguyen ’25
  • Jennifer Boccarossa Music Scholarship: Annabelle Owen ’25
  • Evelyn J. Coulter Thomas ’30 Scholarship: Gabriella Angtuaco ’23 (for music), Chloe Chandler ’23 (for fine literature) and Grey Parrish ’23 (for dance)
  • Annalisa “Magdalena” McClendon Travel Grant: Madeline Dalton ’23
  • Bella Brown “THINK” Scholarship: Belle Mentgen
  • Melissa Ma ’98 Endowed Scholarship: Emely Gonzalez ’23
  • Ma Family Endowed Scholarship: Julieanne Brown ’23


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 more than $38,000 were given to seniors during the Senior Recognition Ceremony on May 18.

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.

Class of 2022 accomplishments highlighted at Senior Recognition Ceremony

Mount St. Mary Academy held its Senior Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, in the McAuley Center Gymnasium. The annual event, one of the final opportunities for the Class of 2022 to gather together before graduation, honored the individual and collective academic accomplishments of this year’s 108 seniors.


Seventy-four percent of the Class of 2022 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 graduates Millie Allgood and Eleanor Lewis, 2nd honor graduate Sydney England, 3rd honor graduate Lucy Nimmo, and 4th honor graduate Savanna Hindman.


Nine 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: Millie Allgood, Rebecca Besier, Sydney England, Abigail Garmon, Savanna Hindman, Eleanor Lewis, Lucy Nimmo, Veronica Simon and Abigail Thompson. Additionally, Katherine Meeks and Isabel Wilcox were recognized for their completion of the AP Seminar and Research certificates.


Rosa Rivera received the 2022 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.


Sydney England was honored for receiving recognition by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation based on her PSAT performance their junior year. She was one of just 14,000 seniors nationwide to be selected as a National Merit Finalist in 2022.


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 Haley Draeger, Rosa Rivera and Mary Claire Thomas. Emma Villiger was awarded the Judith Wrappe Scholarship.


Fifty-one seniors, nearly 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, 57% of the Class of 2022 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 2022!


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.

Closing Prayer Service honors senior class on final day

On Monday, May 9 – the seniors’ last day of high school – Mount St. Mary Academy honored and bid farewell to the Class of 2022 during the Closing Prayer Service. The special all-school celebration, held in the McAuley Center gymnasium, included parting words from teachers, administration, and students, as well as a video highlighting memorable moments from the school year.


Near the end of the Closing Prayer Service, the soon-to-be alumnae took part in the fourth and final tradition experienced by all Mount students prior to their Commencement: the presentation of the graduation tassels. Students receive their Mercy cards in 9th grade, Mercy pins in 10th grade, and class rings in 11th grade. The graduation tassels presented at the end of the students’ final year at Mount mark the completion of their academic and spiritual development during the four years of high school.


After singing the alma mater together one final time on campus, the seniors exited the McAuley Center through an honor guard made up of faculty and staff. The special procession served as an appropriate bookend to the seniors’ experience, for the class walked through an honor guard of students as freshmen being welcomed into the MSM community during the Opening Prayer Service at the beginning of their ninth grade year. This is the only other time during the school year the honor guard takes place.


For their last day of school, per a relatively new tradition at Mount, seniors wore college shirts along with the iconic MSM houndstooth skirts decorated with the mascots, symbols, and colors of the colleges and universities they’ll be attending this fall. The group enjoyed showing off the creative and colorful attire, and taking pictures with each other and their younger classmates, during the all-school Pizza on the Plaza lunch earlier in the day.


View photos from the Closing Prayer Service 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.

MSM juniors selected for acclaimed summer programs

A handful of rising seniors have been selected to participate in two of Arkansas’ most well-known summer programs for high school students this year.


Grace Carman, Mary Mayo and Ella Schafer have been chosen attend the 79th session of Arkansas Girls State based on their leadership, character, scholarship and participation in service. This year’s session will be held May 29 to June 3 at Harding University in Searcy. Since 1942, the Arkansas Girls State program has worked to teach future generations of Arkansas citizens to be actively involved in their communities and government at every level.


Additionally, Chloe Chandler, Madeline Dalton, Caroline Dean and Lily Harrison are among the group of gifted and talented students from across the state who have been invited to attend this year’s Arkansas Governor’s School. Founded in 1979 by then-Governor Bill Clinton, AGS is a four-week summer residential program for select rising seniors that provides a unique supplement to the typical high school curriculum. Students are led to explore cutting-edge theories in the arts and sciences and to develop the creative and intellectual skills necessary for making positive contributions to their communities and to society at large. This year’s program will take place from July 5 to August 1 on the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville.


Congratulations to the Mount St. Mary Academy students selected to attend these wonderful summer programs!


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 hosts annual Athletics Banquet

Nearly 300 guests gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock on Wednesday, May 4, 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: Izzy Todd ’22

Donnie Bridges Award: Kate Raborn ’22

Sr. Phillipa Athletic Award: Sydney England ’22

Sr. Mary Phillipa Parent Award: Melanie Grace

Sr. Phillipa Manning Memorial Scholarship: Mia Aquino ’22

Mary Drake Award: Elizabeth Kehner ’23

Purple Heart Award: Savanna Hindman ’22 and Millie Ketcher ’23

Tri Belle Award: Kate Raborn ’22

Vassar-West Scholarship: Abigail Britt ’24

Clem Papineau Legacy Award: Elea Blakely ’22 and Katherine Meeks ’22

Marilyn Lenggenhager Passionate Athlete Award: Emery Horras ’23 and Josie Landrum ’22

Sara Fritz Outstanding Student Athletic Training Award: Autumn Moss ’23 and Abbie Thompson ’22

Manager of the Year: Mackenzie Edwards ’23 and Brooke Lee ’23

Most Valuable Freshman Award: Anna Kate Suffridge ’25

Most Valuable Belle: Millie Allgood ’22


Twenty-four 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. Millie Allgood and Eleanor Lewis were 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 Beth Pursley who is retiring at the end of the school year. Mrs. Pursley coached soccer and cross country during a large part of her 22 total years at MSM.


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.