September 2015

Wit's End...notes from the principal

Takin' Care of Business. Most parents have heard that phrase but probably a smaller number of you know the musical reference I'm making. Canadian songwriter, Randy Bachman, penned the tune in 1973 and it was a mega hit for B.T.O. (aka Bachman- Turner Overdrive). The chorus was quite the rock anthem for many years to come and I offer it today to make a point:

Taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I've been taking care of business (it's all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime
Work out

It might serve us well to consider the wisdom of that simple directive. To every parent within the sound of my voice, or more accurately within the sight of this written page, takin' care of business, might well be the slogan to define parenting. It's what we do. We care about and we care for a whole slew of important people in our lives. We care for our kids and our spouse; we care about (and often for) our siblings, our own parents (especially as they age). Add in extended family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends . . . exhausting, right? Take a look again at that chorus. It is "every day . . . [in] every way" and we are never really off the clock.

Not trying to beat anyone up here or leave you looking up to find your feet, but the pace at which we move, and the demands we make of ourselves just might need an adjustment. Parents can only change what we acknowledge, so to begin this school year on a positive note, I ask that you consider that some of what we label as our business might very well be shifted to others and, as a result, we would realign some priorities.

At this year's Parent Night, my comments were shaped around a book I was reading: How to Raise an Adult. What was so impressive to me was that the author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, wrote one of the best treatments of parenting, citing not only its wonder and joy, but also its difficulty and challenge. Her premise changed everything for me: Parents don't raise children. Parents raise adults! And since there are life skills every adult needs to know, it follows that every child needs the experiences from which they will learn those skills. They will learn by doing. They will learn by trial and error, and the error part of that formula is the critical piece. So we must love our children and also redefine that such love does not include constant intrusion and problem solving on their behalf.

Let's first agree that your child, your daughter in this case, will learn considerable things by watching, listening, and imitating what she sees you say and do. As a parent, you are the very first and probably most significant influence in her life. Secondly, contrary to what some believe, kids DO pay attention. From the moment they are born, children are absorbing every sight and sound, adjusting to what each of their senses is telling them. And from a very, very young age, kids learn exactly how to use the information they have. They learn to manipulate those around them, especially when they learn what works. Take for example, a young child who cries when hurt. Normal response you say. Certainly. Every hurt, however, doesn't warrant the same response. So the child learns by studying those around her, whether or not tears and wailing provides any pay-off. Does a 'throw myself down on the floor' get some attention? If so, she is apt to repeat that response. Over time, that little one might indeed offer tears and wailing for every injustice. That is a learned response, what appropriately can be called learned helplessness, and it doesn't automatically change with age. Know any adult who still demonstrates the tantrum? If so, is it still working for them?

The converse is also true. What your daughter does for herself that results in success will cement the thinking and behaviors that brought her to the outcome. When she has solved a problem, no matter how small, she will strengthen what is called self-efficacy, the belief in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Maybe more importantly, when she encounters setbacks, she will learn that more often than not, success requires sustained effort. This development impacts every area of human endeavor and it is at the center of healthy self-esteem.

Your role as parent and your relationship with your daughter should evolve each and every year. Her growing independence as a teenager requires diminishing dependence upon you. That's good news. She can and should be doing more for herself which means you can and should have some time on your hands. Consider this. What are your interests? What do you do for yourself? What activity feeds your soul? The answers to any of the above cannot be "my children". Here's why? Lythcott-Haims said it well: "Each of us humans is on a life path that ought to be constructed by our choices, paved with our experiences, and aimed in the direction of our dreams. For parents, our path included having children who in turn have their own paths to follow. But our path continues on." (276)

Don't fall into denial that what she says isn't true. Don't accept that "good parents" martyr themselves or that "good parents" sacrifice every aspect of their lives and relinquish every moment of their time for their children. Remember what I said earlier. Our kids are watching us and they are internalizing everything they see. If what they see in mom or dad looks like an overtaxed, frenzied, short tempered, sleep deprived, anxious and over testy parent . . . persons who take no time for themselves but preach that self-love precedes the love of others . . . well, you know the answer. Why would anyone do it?

We love our kids. We want them to develop self-confidence, stamina, resilience and perseverance. Let them watch you having fun and at least sometimes, fun that has nothing to do with them. Let them see you reading a book (and it's not one of their assignments). Let them see you tackle a problem and share your thinking on what you're doing step-by-step, and why. Let them complete a chore while you sit down and relax. We want them to move on, and move out, and one day invite us to visit them. Think of that. Such a future should not frighten us. They will be creative, accomplished, and productive adults, takin' care of business. And we won't quite know exactly when that happened. But oh the joy we will experience!

Mrs. Carolyn Witte, Principal

Lythcott-Haims, Jule. How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2015, Print.

Mothers Club

Thanks to everyone who attended the first Mothers Club Meeting of the year! We hope you will all come to the next meeting on Monday, October 5 at 6:30pm in the Media Center. Each month we will have something special to look forward to, so we encourage all moms to attend.

Be sure to check out the Mothers Club home page and calendar for more information about upcoming events and important notes. 

Dad's Club


Join us to kick-off Spirit Week and the 70th Anniversary & Grand Reunion Weekend!
Thursday, September 24

8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Mercy JV Softball Field
Bonfire - DJ - S'mores Station
This is a free family event open to ALL Mercy families, Alumnae, and friends of Mercy.
Special Thanks: Dwyer Marble & Stone, Farmington Hills; Mothers Club Baking Committee; Mercy Physical Plant and Custodial Team.


When: Saturday, October 3, 2015
From: Leave Mercy Parking Lot at 8:00am
Return: Leave Cedar Point Parking Lot same day at 8:00pm sharp. Arriving back at Mercy 10:30pm-11:00pm.
Who: Any Mercy student and her father/guardian.
Cost: $100 per father/daughter. Additional are $50 each. Presently we have 1 bus reserved, it is first come first serve. If we have a quick response, we will reserve additional buses; otherwise it will be the first 56 dads/daughters who sign-up.
More info here.
Sign up online at form and payment to Mercy Reception Area.
Any Questions? Contact Bryan Stapp at or 248-667-8277.

The Dads Club needs one additional member to volunteer at Mercy the evening of Friday, September 25 from approximately 6:30pm - 10:00pm at the President' Reception. Dress code is MDC polo shirt and khakis. For additional information or to volunteer contact Tom Pegler at or feel free to call at 248.207.1225.
The Dads Club is also assisting with the 70th Anniversary & Grand Reunion for the Saturday, September 26 luncheon and open house. We will be in the parking lot guiding guests to the auditorium/gymnasium entrance, helping those with any special needs, and welcoming the guests at the entrance. We are in need of approximately 16 volunteers to fulfill this commitment. We have split it up into two shifts, 10:00am to 11:15am and 11:15am to 12:45pm. Volunteer for one shift or both! If you would like to volunteer feel free to email our membership director, David Langlois at


The Dads Club is also trying to build their database of emails to contact when assistance is needed for events such as this, the homecoming dance, the annual auction, and the senior all night party. If you would like to have your name added to the database please send our membership director, David Langlois an email at He will gladly add you to Sign-up Genius!


Welcome to Mercy!

Welcome to the new members of the Class of 2019 and 16 transfer students who joined our Mercy family. More warm welcomes to these 4 new staff members: Isabelle Moore (English/Performing Arts); Andrea Kowalyk (Pastoral Ministry); Michelle Gambino (Athletic Trainer); Brandi Lavely (Physical Education).
Help us welcome even more Mercy girls to our spectacular school! Spread the word about our upcoming Mercy Open House, October 25 from 1pm - 3:30pm. Please encourage seventh and eighth grade girls to shadow a student and experience life at Mercy firsthand. Shadow days begin October 1. Contact for more admissions information.

Student & Staff Successes

Congratulations to seniors Lucy Devine and Alana Sullivan who were named Semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Way to go! Mercy Golf Coach Mrs. Vicky Kowalski was named the Oakland County Division 1 Golf COACH OF THE YEAR!

Flu Vaccination Clinic

Once again Mercy will host a free influenza clinic on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 in partnership with the Michigan Community Wellness Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Alana's Foundation. The foundation was established in 2009 in memory of then five year old Alana Yaksich who died of influenza in 2003.

The clinic will be held from 12:30-3:30 pm in Mercy's lobby (Auditorium/Gym Lobby Area) on October 6th and is available to students, staff, and families of Mercy. It does, however, require advance registration for each person who wishes to receive the vaccination here on October 6th. We have provided all of the information you need. See the flyer, the Vaccine Information Statements (for both Flu Injectable and Intranasal Flu Mist), and the Notice of Privacy Practices. Please print, complete and return the Assessment and Consent Form to the Reception Area no later than Tuesday September, 22, 2015.
A separate consent form must be completed (in its entirety) for each person who will be vaccinated. Parents must complete and sign the form for anyone under the age of 18.
All consent forms are required in advance because the VNA must determine the actual number of doses needed for the day of the clinic. The flu mist will be used whenever possible but the nurse will make the determination in cases where the injectable is more appropriate (i.e. anyone over age 49 is ineligible to receive the FluMist).
Please note: On the day of the flu clinic, any person who has pre-registered will need to present a picture ID and the insurance card (or a copy of the insurance
card) in order to receive the vaccination. Vaccinations will not be given to anyone whose consent form is incomplete or unsigned. Most insurance companies cover the cost of the vaccination but Alana's Foundation will cover the cost for anyone without any insurance.
Mercy is happy to offer our facility for this clinic. We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity for your daughter(s) and/or yourself. Please consult with your family physician regarding any questions about the vaccine.
Flu Vaccination Clinic Info and Consent Forms

Make a Difference Day

Mercy Make a Difference Day Friday, September 25, 2015
On this day during Spirit Week the entire Mercy School, staff and students, will be going out into the community to do service. Imagine what an impact 900 people doing 3.5 hours of service can do! We are expecting 100% attendance so please do not make college visits or doctors appointments on that day.
Schedule for the Day:
  • School will start at 8:00 a.m. with a meeting in Adviser group followed by a short prayer service, directions for the day and boarding of the buses.
  • Students will travel to the location and work with their Adviser and Adviser group from approximately 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. doing a variety of service tasks. Students will earn 3 hours of community service towards their graduation requirement.
  • The buses will bring the groups back to school. Lunch will be provided.
  • The day will end at 1:40 p.m.
  • Students need to wear their Mercy Make A Difference Day t-shirt they received last year. We are asking students to bring these in ahead of time to make sure they have them the morning of the event to wear to the site they are assigned. New students will receive a shirt the day of the event.
CLICK HERE for permission slip and medical forms. If you haven't already done so, please print and fill out both the permission slip and medical form and have your daughter turn it in ASAP. Students who do not bring in forms will be assigned service at Mercy High School. Participation is mandatory.
Appropriate Dress
Please make sure your daughter is appropriately dressed to do service on that day. Jeans or comfortable pants, sturdy, closed-toe shoes and the service day t-shirt is necessary. Students may bring sunscreen and bug spray if needed. More specific details on dress will be provided by your daughter's Adviser.
Please note: Most sites suggest bringing heavy-duty gardening gloves.
We are very excited about this day. This is what we stand for as a school. In the words of Catherine McAuley, "No work of charity can be more productive of good to society, or more conducive to the happiness of the poor, than the careful instruction of women."
We Are Mercy and Together We Can Make A Difference!

Counseling Corner

Attention Senior Students and Parents (or Class of 2016): Do you have questions about the college application process? Looking for direction on how to support your daughter as she chooses which colleges to apply to and completes her applications? The College Counseling Staff is here to assist you. We welcome you (and your daughter) to attend the following upcoming "College Wednesday" informal meetings. Feel free to drop in with questions. Our goal is to provide a casual and comfortable environment for students and parents to come in and discuss college plans and questions in a small group setting. Please check in at the Reception Area before proceeding to the meeting location. The scheduled meeting date and time is as follows: Wednesday, September 23 from 12:00pm - 1:00pm in the Baggot Street Conference Room.

Attention Junior Students and Parents (or Class of 2017): Beginning in November, the College Counseling Staff will offer opportunities for junior students and their parents to have a one-on-one College Planning Meeting with their Counselor. Information regarding the focus of these meetings and how to schedule the appointment for your family will be mailed home the week of October 19th.
Attention Sophomore Students and Parents (or Class of 2018): Counselors will meet with all sophomore students in a small group format during the week of September 14th. Sophomore students transition to a new Counselor this year and remain with that Counselor through their senior year. See below to identify your daughter's new counselor.
Last Names (A-G) - Work with Mrs. Dianna Shamus
Last Names (H-O) - Work with Mrs. Arpna Hessler
Last Names (P-Z) - Work with Mrs. Kristen Casey
The focus of this meeting is (1) Getting to know your new counselor; (2) Introducing students to Naviance Family Connection, Mercy's comprehensive online college and career planning resource; (3) Introduce students to career planning resources and how to begin building a resume.
Upcoming Testing Day for 10th and 11th grade Students: Save the date...both sophomore and junior students will take the PSAT on Wednesday, October 14th. Testing will begin promptly at 8:20 am and will conclude approximately at 11:45 am. More information regarding the details of the day will be shared with students the week prior to testing.
Attention Freshman Students and Parents (or Class of 2019): Mrs. Trish Brown, the 9th Grade Counselor, will begin meeting with each freshwoman for an Individual Interview. This brief meeting is an opportunity for Mrs. Brown to begin to know your daughter on a more personal level. It is our hope that Counseling can begin to establish a relationship with each 9th grade student in order to better support her over the next four years.

70th Anniversary Celebration

Happy 70th Mercy! The 70th Anniversary and Grand Reunion celebration is almost here and we are expecting around 500 guests.

We are looking for parent volunteers to lend a hand with various duties for events September 24 - 28, 2015. Please use this sign-up link to assist with set-up, clean-up, clerical work, and much more. Many of the volunteer shifts are scheduled on days/times prior to the kick-off of our weekend activities.Contact the Special Events office at 248.893.3535 or with any volunteer questions.

The Dads Club needs one additional member to volunteer at Mercy the evening of Friday, September 25 from approximately 6:30pm - 10:00pm at the President' Reception. Dress code is MDC polo shirt and khakis. For additional information or to volunteer contact Tom Pegler at or feel free to call at 248.207.1225.

The Dads Club is also assisting with the 70th Anniversary & Grand Reunion for the Saturday, September 26 luncheon and open house. We will be in the parking lot guiding guests to the auditorium/gymnasium entrance, helping those with any special needs, and welcoming the guests at the entrance. We are in need of approximately 16 volunteers to fulfill this commitment. We have split it up into two shifts, 10:00am to 11:15am and 11:15am to 12:45pm. Volunteer for one shift or both! If you would like to volunteer feel free to email our membership director, David Langlois at


Thank you for supporting the Mercy High School 70th Anniversary and Grand Reunion!

ACT and SAT Testing

Mercy is a testing center for both the ACT and SAT on selected national testing dates.
  • SAT - November 7, 2015 and June 4, 2016
  • ACT - October 24, 2015 and June 11, 2016

Although some school staff may work at these administrations, all registration and payment is done through College Board and ACT. Please use links below.

Mercy Day Mass

You are invited to Mercy High School for our Mercy Day Mass Thursday, September 24 at 9:55am in the Auditorium. Worship with us as we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mercy.
In the spirit of Catherine McAuley, Founder of the Sisters of Mercy, prayer and service are integrated: "Our center is God from Whom all our actions should spring as from their source, and no exterior actions should separate us from Him."

Mercy Latin

Over the summer, Mercy Latin students and families embarked on a 13-day trip to Greece and Italy! Highlights included:
  • a Greek island cruise
  • touring ancient Corinth in the footsteps of St. Paul
  • Greek dancing lessons
  • climbing Mt. Etna
  • walking through the Colosseum
  • visiting the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel
It was both a fun and educational experience for all who traveled. Visit for more photos!

Summer in France

Monsieur and Madame Campbell led a private tour of 38 Mercy alumnae, parents and students to La France this past summer for 11 days in early July. This trip of a lifetime included visits to Paris, Provence, Monaco and La Côte d'Azur.

The favorite cultural experiences of the group included a French cooking lesson, en evening on the Eiffel tower, an afternoon bicycle tour on the grounds of Versailles, learning about French Impressionism at Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise, a tour of the Fragonard perfume factory and learning how to play French pétanque with French experts from the south of France. We even celebrated Bastille Day with the French! The best part of the trip students were the complements the student participants received on the quality of their French conversational skills by native French people! Bravo tout le monde!

CHSL Clothing Drive

This year during Spirit Week, not only will Mercy be serving the community on Make a Difference Day, but we will also join the Catholic League in a service project to help meet the ever increasing needs of families.

St. Vincent de Paul is asking the Catholic High School League to team up with them for the 1st Annual Fall Kick-off Clothing Drive. Every CHSL school will be involved in this drive. We will have one week, Sept. 18 - 25 to fill the storage unit to the brim. The school that accumulates the most poundage will be the recipients of the first annual St. Vincent de Paul "Support the Poor" traveling trophy to be presented at the Prep Bowl.

Please help Mercy to become the first winner of this trophy by donating clothing items. Classes will be awarded spirit points. All clothes can be brought to the Athletic Office.

More info about Champions for Charity Clothing Drive

Lore Yearbook

PICTURE RETAKE DAY: Picture retake day is October 13th in the lobby from 7:45 until 2:55 p.m. Students who are getting pictures retaken need to bring in the picture package they received.
YEARBOOK: If you haven't yet purchased your daughter's yearbook, there is still time. Yearbooks will be sold before and after school Oct. 12-16 for $65. Additional options such as personalized nameplates are available by purchasing your yearbook at and using order # 13826. The Lore has been chronicling Mercy's story since its founding in 1945. Secure a piece of your daughter's history now.

YEARBOOK ADS: The LORE Staff would like to present you with the unique opportunity of placing an ad for your daughter in this year's yearbook! This is an excellent way to offer congratulations and to recognize your daughter's efforts in high school. Ads are available in a variety of sizes. To order, please fill out this form and submit all ad materials by November 6. Parents may also design their ad online at using order # 13826.

Latest and Greatest from the Alumnae Office

Special Invitation for Alumna Mothers and their Daughters

Attention moms who are Mercy alumnae: You and your daughter are cordially invited to the upcoming Legacy Dinner. Moms who attended another Mercy High School are also welcome to bring their daughters. We keep it short and very sweet. Plus, one lucky guest will win $1,000 toward tuition! (Must be present to win.)
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
6:00 - 7:30 pm
Mercy Media Center
Hosted by the Alumnae Association
Celebrate the Mercy tradition. Watch for your invitation in the mail and RSVP to 248.476.3270 or

Pilgrimage to Ireland

By Alana Sullivan '15

"Would you mind not shaking my seat?" Junior Maria Pizzo and I looked up from her iPhone with wide eyes and quickly mumbled an apology to the woman in the airline seat in front of us-who was glaring at us with pursed lips-before quietly giggling to ourselves. Evidently our in-seat dancing and laughter was getting a little too boisterous, though we had hardly noticed. It's crazy to think the first time we had met had been less than two weeks earlier. International travel and a life-changing Mercy experience will do that to you, I guess.

This past summer I had the incredible privilege of traveling to Ireland for the Youth Mercy Leaders Conference along with Pastoral Minister Mrs. Judi Griggs-Dennis, a parent chaperone, 14 other Mercy girls, and three girls from Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, AR, who we soon realized were as much Mercy girls as the rest of us. Going into the trip, all I knew was that our group would be visiting famous sites in Ireland like Blarney Castle for the first part of the week and would finish the trip with the conference, which would be held in Dublin at Mercy International Centre. The prospect of touring Ireland was enough to convince me to go, and I figured the conference would be a nice addition, if not my initial reason to go.
Departure day was a flurry of excitement and stress. Corralling 18 teenage girls and getting them from one part of the world to another is no easy task, but we managed to without a hitch. Upon arrival at Dublin Airport, we were met by our tour guide, famed seanachaí (Irish storyteller)Mr. Batt Burns who would travel with us for the duration of our trip. Over the next week a group of mostly strangers became confidants and friends, as we climbed ancient castle staircases, hiked up and down cobblestone streets, and sang and danced to Irish music. In Batt's hometown of Sneem we were welcomed by the town's senior center to stop by for a "bit of tea" and some lively chat, before being asked to participate in mass at the local church that evening. I had never felt more welcomed and accepted in my life.
It is easy to see, then, why most of us could not imagine the conference topping our week of adventure and bonding. We were soon proved wrong. From the opening ceremony, in which we recognized all the schools from the five countries (the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belize, Australia, and the United States) present, a sense of oneness and purpose could be felt. Over the next four days, we attended workshops led by Sisters of Mercy and associates from around the world and learned how our founder Catherine McAuley was a revolutionary crusader for women and the poor in her day. We discussed current global issues affecting women the Sisters of Mercy are involved in, as well as how these issues came about in the first place. I found a workshop on the Sisters' work to abolish human trafficking to be particularly inspirational. There is nothing that compares to sitting in a group with girls your age from five different countries and sharing your experience as a woman of Mercy, discussing your hopes and dreams, and deciphering what it means to be Mercy to the world. Trying to imitate each other's accents, trading slang words, and learning the Australian equivalent of the "Cupid Shuffle" was enormous fun as well. Each school left the conference with a plan of how to better implement Mercy in their communities.
I will remember the people, places, and experiences from my trip to Ireland for the rest of my life. I hope to always be Mercy to the world, in whatever profession I choose and any interactions I have with others. I urge any student or parent who yearns to grow in their knowledge of Mercy's international community, to experience exciting and beautiful places and people, and to get to know their own Mercy sisters on a closer, more personal level to attend the next Youth Mercy Leaders Conference in Ireland in July 2017. My only regret? That it had to end.

Go Marlins!

Fall sports are in action! Field Hockey already captured some big wins. Volleyball is spiking their way to the top in tournament play. Golf is finding early success. Swim & Dive stay strong with plenty of meets ahead while Cross Country and Equestrian continue on their courses to victory. Cheer on all your Marlins sports teams! Check the athletics calendar and even get driving directions. Our athletes are always making headlines. Read some sports features here.

Art Workshop

The Art Department is sponsoring an after school workshop to assist serious art students with portfolio development and A.P. studio exam preparation. Any Mercy 9th-12th grade student who is considering taking art in college should attend. The workshop will be held in the Apple lab (N-15) on Thursday, September 24, from 2:40-3:45. The agenda will include the following.
  • Procedures for starting additional pieces which are appropriate for art scholarship competitions and the A.P. studio art exams
  • Procedures to communicate with the art faculty for ongoing critique and support
  • Photographing and editing your art in a professional manner to college admissions and AP exam standards


If students attended last year's workshops, they may use the entire time to photograph their art with the art department cameras and to edit photos with the lab computers. If students are new to the portfolio process, they may come to receive the information regarding the college art admissions process. Parents are welcome to attend. Please contact Ms. Susan Smith with questions.

Pizza, Jams and Jeans

Pizza, Jams and Jeans is an informal, light-hearted concert held in Mercy's cafeteria on Wednesday, October 7. The Glee I, Advanced Glee, Mercyaires and Orchestra perform following a dinner of pizza, salad and pop. Families, friends and alumnae are welcome to join the fun-filled evening and to get "into the groove."

Snapshot of Mercy
Mercy girls sure know how to show their spirit during Spirit Week 2015!

If you have any questions or want to submit information for the Mercy MEMO, please contact Want even more? Click the school year calendar and the Mercy web site. And don't miss all of the latest Mercy In The News articles. Check out the current announcements and browse the home page links to see what's happening at Mercy.