Taking a L.E.A.D. in Service

Communications News

Community service is a way of life at Mount Alvernia. Just as we aspire to foster a commitment to lifelong learning at Mount Alvernia, we likewise aim to nurture a dedication to serving the needs of others.

“Community service has always been an incredibly important part of the Mount Alvernia High School experience – beyond the facts and figures learned in various content areas students are learning how to personify “pax et bonum” ​in the world,” said Eileen McLaughlin, Head of School.

Under the leadership of Campus Minister, Debra McCourt, our Community Service program is undergoing a transformation.

“As a new campus minister coming into the community, I thought it was a good idea to take a look at the existing program and see where we could make changes to align with our mission statement, what it takes to be a 7 C’s Woman and evaluate the requirements currently in place,” said McCourt.

Until the end of this academic year, students must complete a minimum of 30 hours of service each year from grade 8 through grade 12 in addition to our academic requirements.

Called “L.E.A.D” (Learn, Engage, Action, Dedicate), the new community service program is grounded in the Christ’s calling of his disciples to care of the poor, lost and lonely of society and the model of servant leadership, that when you take care of the needs of people first, leadership will follow. These themes will be supported through theology classes, retreats and service opportunities.

“We state in our mission that we are steeped in Franciscan Tradition; what better way to be Franciscan than to take care of the poor of our society.  This program will help the girls to hear, see, and experience this mission,” said McCourt.  “Also, for many girls putting themselves into a new situation of reaching people they may never come in contact with helps them gain confidence and perhaps give them a purpose to make change in the world.”

The new program was launched on the last day of classes in June. The program will be affect starting this fall.

Each grade level will engage with the program differently, working their way up to volunteering in their communities by senior year.

The details are as follows:

  • 7th & 8th  Grades: “Learn” – Speakers and volunteers from various organizations  will be invited to speak on behalf of their organizations and causes.  Students will be invited to participate in a variety of on-campus drives, collections, and after school run activities. Each one established to educate the student to choose to live justly and with compassion.  These grades will not have a minimum of hours to complete.
  • 9th Grade:  “Engage” – Students will be asked to participate in a series of volunteer opportunities beyond  the Mount Alvernia Community, through the many partnerships made with organizations. Students will be asked to complete 10 hours.
  • 10th & 11th Grade:  “Action” –  Students will be asked to complete 15 hours of service at a site that is both approved by the Campus Minister and they feel called to put their passion into Action. 
  • 12th Grade:  “Dedicate” – The senior year will be a capstone year and include completing 20 hours of community service along with personal reflection based on the relationship made between site and volunteer.

“My hope is that the restructuring of the community service program allows students to come to understand their role in their own communities and the call to move beyond their own communities as well to serve those who are marginalized in our society,” said McLaughlin.   

The Feast of Saint Francis

emclaughlin Head of School

This morning as the Mount Alvernia community gathered in the chapel to celebrate our Franciscan tradition, the Call to Worship invited students to recognize their own Franciscan identity and its call to be an instrument of peace.  It is easily said, but challenging to acknowledge when we are faced with the realities of the past month – the destruction of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the gun violence we witnessed early Monday morning in Las Vegas.  Despite these trying times – I am grateful to be a part of a community that at its core calls each of its members to be instruments of peace, to acknowledge that there is goodness in the world – pax et bonum.

As mass concluded, we heard from a senior who shared her reflection on being Franciscan and asked each person gathered to think about, “Who are you called to be in our community?”  Her question is one that I have posed to students, alumnae, parents and Board members over the years, but this morning at her prompting and through the lens of the feast day of Saint Francis I asked myself the same question.

I am a lay member of a community founded by religious women who believed that in addition to educating young women in a variety of academic topics we should be guiding them to develop into the women that God created them to be.  Mount Alvernia’s mission is to foster the development of women who believe that life has a purpose, who are able to discern the ‘good’ and who will be an effective force for it in the world.  This evolution cannot happen unless I myself keep my focus on these very same ideals.  My faith is grounded in knowing that life has a purpose and that I have a role in the world – however I choose to define that world.  The world can be broad and far-reaching or it can be the world here at 790 Centre Street.  Our mission statement’s invitation to discern the good is reflected in the school motto Pax et Bonum – peace and goodness.

So in response to that student’s question this morning I am called to be one who discerns the good in every student and each situation I encounter at Mount Alvernia.  I am called to believe that even in life’s challenges there is an opportunity to know goodness.  I am called to help others navigate the challenges in life that cause disruption in order that they might discover the peace that the world has to offer.  I feel blessed to be a member of a community where both leaders and community members know that their membership in the MAHS community calls them to something greater – calls her to become the person that God created her to be.

Pax et Bonum,

Eileen McLaughlin

Opioid Epidemic RCAB Webinar Series

emclaughlin Head of School

While our concerns are often governed by the ordinary events which drive our life –there are the extraordinary worries that each of us hold.  Certainly the Opioid Epidemic is one extraordinary worry that each of us bears witness to.  It is a topic at the national and local level and one that has crept into our own homes as we witness the struggle or just know the pain it wreaks on the lives of those in our communities.  In an effort to address the growing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, Cardinal Sean O’Malley established an Opioid Addiction Task Force in 2016.  One of the goals of the task force is to identify and develop pastoral support programs for parishes and schools within the Archdiocese of Boston.

This past Thursday the Archdiocese launched a series of webinars to help facilitate conversation around the challenges we face as a community. The series was designed specifically for Catholic school leaders, parents and guardians and will run over four consecutive Thursdays beginning last Thursday and extended to October 12th.  The live webinar runs from 1-2pm but can be accessed within 24 hours on line.

This past Thursday, Mrs. Colin and I tuned in to listen to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan whose office has partnered with the Cardinal’s Task Force.  DA Ryan emphasized the magnitude of the problem and the critical need for proactive and preventative education both at home and in the schools.  Conversation is the key to a preventative approach and prevention is necessary as rehabilitation presents incredible challenges.

I encourage each of you to take a moment and watch the first webinar as the precursor to a conversation you are planning.  It might be wise to invite your daughter to listen with you.  This is a topic that Mrs. Colin brought to Mount Alvernia’s Women of Wellness club last week as well.

There is no charge to participate in this series; registration is free. Please note that these are live, interactive webinars. However, once completed, links to the series will be available on the Opioid Task Force website. The links should be available and posted within 24 hours of the airing of each episode. To register for the webinar series or to watch DA Ryan’s webinar from Thursday, please visit: www.masscatholicotf.org.

Pax et Bonum,


Eileen McLaughlin


emclaughlin Head of School

MAHS Campus Ministry & Community Service

Mount Alvernia High School has a long tradition of inviting students to participate in community service as a means of learning about themselves by serving the needs of others.  It has long been a reminder that we are Women of Community: who work to balance our own needs with the needs of others.  One of the means of enlightening and shaping courageous, compassionate and articulate women who believe that life has a purpose, who are able to discern the “good” and who will be an effective force for it in the world is through service to those in need.  All Mount Alvernia High School students in grades 7 through 12 will be immersed in the L.E.A.D. program through the work of our Campus Ministry program.  The L.E.A.D. program was established to educate, advocate, and engage the Mount Alvernia Community in the model of servant leadership.

MAHS students in grades 7 & 8 will Learn about service.  Representatives from Nonprofit organizations within the community will be invited to speak with the middle school students concerning their organization’s unique needs and missions.  Students will be invited to participate in a variety of on-campus drives, collections, and after school run activities.  Each opportunity has been established to educate students to chose to live justly and with compassion. Students in grade 7 & 8 do not have a minimum of hours to complete. On October 31st, MAHS will welcome back Katy DeMoura ’08 who currently serves as the Manager of Community Engagement at Cradles to Crayons, Massachusetts.  Katy will speak to the 7th and 8th graders about the work done at Cradles to Crayons and opportunities for involvement.

MAHS students in grade 9 will be asked to Engage in service.  Freshmen at Mount Alvernia will be asked to participate in a series of volunteer opportunities beyond the MAHS Community, through the many partnerships made with organizations such as Cradles to Crayons, The Italian Children’s Home, The Second Step, and Community Serving.  Freshmen will be required to complete 10 hours of service this year.

MAHS students in grades 10th & 11th will focus on service as Action. Sophomores and juniors will be required to complete 15 hours of service at a site that is both approved by the Campus Minister and where they feel called to put their passion into action.  All service must be completed by May 15th of the school year.

MAHS Seniors will Dedicate themselves to service.  The senior year will be a capstone year and include completing 20 hours of community service along with personal reflection based on the relationship made between site and volunteer.

What I love about Mount Alvernia is that student achievement is not only measured by their academic growth but also by their personal growth.  I am delighted to have our community service program be so closely linked to MAHS Campus Ministry so that students learn about service through the lens of their faith.

I looK forward to seeing you tonight at Mount Alvernia’s Back to School Night.

Pax et Bonum,


Eileen McLaughlin

Welcome New Faculty and Staff

Communications News

Please join us in welcoming our new members to the MAHS Community!


Amber Leung

Math Department & 7th Grade Homeroom Teacher – teaching 2 sections of 9th grade geometry, 2 sections of 7th grade pre-algebra and one section of 10th grade algebra II.
Amber has a BA in Psychology from Boston University and an MA in Teaching from Simmons Colege
Ms. Leung comes to Mount Alvernia High School from the Kennedy Middle School in Waltham.  Additionally, Ms. Leung has worked as a math teacher during the summer for the Yawkey Way Boys and Girls Club in Boston.  Ms. Leung’s philosophy of teaching and learning is that to be an effective instructor you need to bring enthusiasm to the material and hare with the students a love of learning.  Teaching should not be a series of drills and monotony bur rather a place of opportunity for students to explore and be involved in the materials.  Ms. Leung is happy to be a member of a school community that aims to create a nurturing environment where students are able to reach their full potential and learn to respect themselves and others.

Erin DaCosta

Theology Department, Student Council moderator & 8th grade homeroom teacher – teaching two sections of 10th grade theology, one section of junior theology, one section of senior theology and psychology.
Erin has a BA in Sociology from Stonehill College and an MA in Pastoral Ministry from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry
Mrs. DaCosta comes to Mount Alvernia High School from The Academy at Penguin Hall in Wenham, MA where she served as a religion teacher and Director of Campus Ministry.  Prior to that Mrs. DaCosta was the Director of Campus Ministry at Lowell Catholic High School.   Mrs. DaCosta believes that teaching and ministering to young women is her life’s calling.  Journeying alongside students as tehy explore their hopes, dremas and beliefs brings her great joy – a remarkable process to bear witness to.  Mrs. DaCosta is happy to be part of the Mount Alvernia community and shares its dedication to girls’ Catholic education.

Janine Torchio

Front Office Manager
Janine has a BA in Business Management from Suffolk University
Mrs. Torchio comes to Mount Alvernia with a long history of dedication to Catholic education.  Mrs. Torchio first came to work in a Catholic school when her daughter and son were students at St. Raphael’s in Medford.  Most recently, Mrs. Torchio served as the Administrative Assistant to the Principal at St. Rose School in Chelsea.

September 12, 2017 “Welcome Back”

emclaughlin Head of School

Mount Alvernia’s 7 Cs Women are Women of Community

who work to balance their own needs with the needs of others.

Welcome back!  While we have only arrived at day five of classes it feels as if the Mount  Alvernia community is well ensconced in the 2017-18 school year.  Students are navigating the hallways, making new friends, meeting new teachers and learning to balance the academic workload with sports and other activities.  It is affirming to see how quickly we adjust to new expectations.  The new year brings us several changes – many of which came from student suggestions during the 2016-17 school year as well as our strategic planning process.  MAHS has adopted a new 8 period schedule that allows for every student in the building to benefit from one study period and also led to the addition of new elective classes such as 12th grade Advanced Placement Government and Marine Science, another senior elective.  In addition to the new schedule, we have adopted a new student information system, Blackbaud.  This system will allow for a new and improved means of communication between student, parent, teacher and school.  All students received their logins on the first day of classes and have had time with teachers to learn how to navigate the system.  An email was send to all parents on the first day of classes to introduce the system and share the link so that they could establish their username and password.  If you did not receive this email then it is likely that we have an incorrect email on file. Please feel free to contact the front office and update your contact information.

As we mark the changes this new year brings, we also celebrate the Mount Alvernia tradition.  This September marks an important milestone in our community’s history.  It was 90 years ago this September that the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception opened the doors of Mount Alvernia School on Manet Road in Chestnut Hill.  Since that time, Mount Alvernia has grown into a robust community, composed of the Academy which serves students in grades pre-K to six and the High School which serves young women in grades 7-12.  Much has changed in 90 years, but what remains is Mount Alvernia’s mission rooted in our Franciscan identity.  We will celebrate our evolution throughout the year but we will take the time to celebrate as an extended community on Friday evening October 6th with mass and a reception.  I hope you consider joining us!

I have begun my 18th year at Mount Alvernia High School and can bear witness to tremendous growth in that time.  I am excited to see what the future holds for our community.

Pax et Bonum,

Eileen McLaughlin

McFarland Awarded BU Medeiros Scholarship

Communications News

Newly minted alumna Amanda McFarland is headed to Boston University as a recipient of full tuition, four year Cardinal Medeiros Scholarship.

McFarland is one of only 12  graduates in the Archdiocese of Boston receiving the highly competitive scholarship. She received her award last night, May 24, during a ceremony at BU with Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Medeiros Scholars are chosen for their academic achievements, demonstrated leadership skills and contributions to their schools and communities. The scholars were selected by a two-person committee composed of representatives from BU Admissions and the Archdiocese of Boston.

McFarland was the Class of 2017 Valedictorian. During her time at MAHS, she was the secretary of the Student Council, co-founder and committee head of Activists Among Us, and an active member of the Varsity Cheer Team, Yearbook, Ambassador Club, Math Team and Campus Ministry.

She taught fourth grade Religious Education class for two years at St. Agnes Parish. She also volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, Cor Unum, and the Arlington Food Pantry. She completed 221 hours of community service.

Amanda is an AP Scholar with Distinction and has earned Effort Recognition for all 4 Years of high school, the Harvard University Book Award, the Arthur O’Leary Academic Achievement Award and certificates of excellence in AP French, AP Calculus, AP World Literature, AP Physics, 20th Century History, Latin, and Theology.

Amanda will major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The scholarship is named for Cardinal Medeiros who was born in the Azores and migrated as a child with his family to Fall River, Mass. While serving as Bishop of Brownsville, Texas, his work with migrant workers came to the attention of BU Chancellor and Texas native, John Silber. In 1970, Medeiros was named Archbishop of Boston, then Cardinal, and in 1982, was granted an honorary degree at BU. Shortly after Medeiros’ death in 1983, Silber recommended that the BU Board of Trustees establish a scholarship in Medeiros’ name. Since 1986, the university has expended more than $35 million on scholarships for Archdiocesan students.

Dr. Heim Receives Seven C’s Woman Award

Communications News

Dr. Melissa Lewis Heim, former history teacher and a dedicated mentor to fellow teachers, was honored with this year’s Seven C’s Award.

Presented annually at graduation since 2000, the Seven C’s Award is awarded to a member of the community for her outstanding dedication to Mount Alvernia. The award recognizes:

Women of Courage – who have spirit and strength

Women of Confidence – who believe in their own self worth

Women of Character – who have a moral and an ethical core  

Women of Competence – who have the skills to live in any world

Women of Compassion – who are able to feel deeply for and with others

Women of Commitment – who understand the value of making promises and keeping them.  

Women of Community – who work to balance their own needs with the needs of others

Before presenting the award, Ms. Eileen McLaughlin said:

“…she was a department chair who helped me grow not solely by observing me and offering me critical feedback – but more importantly helped me grow by engaging me in conversation about student achievement, the importance of imagination and the river of time – the ways in which history is alive in every current event we encounter.

We thank her for modeling for each of us here at MA what it means to be a Seven C’s Woman. She represents for each of us that in order to become the people we were created to be we must consistently enter in to the work with a sense of faith and mission, commit the time, and imagine the possibilities.”

Sophomore Pitches Perfect Game

Communications Athletics, News

Big Mustang softball news: Grace D. ’19 pitched two no-hitters in the past week. Last night, she pitched a perfect game with 13 strikeouts against Notre Dame of Tyngsborough.

Congratulations, Grace!

Meet the Top 5 of the Class of 2017

Communications News

We are proud to share with you the Top 5 members of the Class of 2017!

Congratulations to Valedictorian Amanda M.., Salutatorian Elizabeth C. and Senior Scholars Grace A., Elizabeth D., Katherine F.!

Great job, ladies!