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Life on Lowder Street

A Community Blog

When traveling on Lowder Street by car, you come to a point where you can only go one way, and the road leads you straight to Ursuline Academy! Welcome to our blog, where you can learn a little more about the amazing people that make 85 Lowder Street come to life!

Humans of Ursuline: Ms. Sarah Sedman

You may catch Ms. Sedman walking the halls of Ursuline wearing her colorful squid hats or overseeing the Anime and Crochet clubs, but what you may not know is that she is currently getting her Ph.D. in higher education leadership, which is aimed at refining the overall education process from the lens of administration, faculty, and students. However, Ms. Sedman did not always know that she desired to pursue teaching.

Humans of Ursuline: Amanda Mingolelli '23

Amanda Mingolelli ’23 is a well-known face around Ursuline. However, some may not know that she loves computer science, and is very involved in our computer science program. She decided to dedicate some of her time outside of school to STEM, so she applied to be a Women in STEM ambassador through WiSTEM, an organization of young women in STEM who all come together to encourage other girls to get involved in  STEM.

Humans of Ursuline: Mr. Mayer

If you are lucky enough to have had Mr. Mayer as your English teacher, then I am sure you know of his love for The Beatles. (Yes, the band, not the insect.) As soon as you step into his classroom, your eyes are glued to the band images and collectibles he has on each wall of his room. You are greeted with large photographs of John, George, Paul, and Ringo as well as t-shirts, drawings, and the occasional lego-crafted portrait. Now, if you have not seen this sight first-hand, Mr. Mayer’s fascination may not make much sense to you. However, the story behind his love for this Liverpool Rockband is truly touching. 

"Making Land Work for Good" with Molly Burhans: A Student Perspective

Molly Burhans, a climate change activist and November’s featured speaker for Ursuine’s 75th Anniversary Speaker Series, shared her journey of working with the Catholic Church on using its land for social and environmental good. As a member of Ursuline’s Green Club, I was so excited to learn that we would be hearing from such an influential figure in climate change. Attending Molly’s talk about a topic I am passionate about has inspired me to do more in my own community to combat climate change.

Humans of Ursuline: Ms. Jayne Franchini

Ms. Jayne Franchini lives out Ursuline’s motto of Serviam through her work in the Campus Ministry office at Ursuline, where one of her jobs is to plan service trips. Ms. Franchini impacts Ursuline by inspiring the community to serve those in need. She wants everyone at Ursuline to be the hands of God, and she instills this in Ursuline’s community. 

Spoken Latin in the Classroom: More Than Just a “Dead Language”

When my classmates and I entered the Latin classroom on the first day of our junior year, we encountered a form of the language that was unknown to us: oral Latin. Latin is a dead language, meaning it is no longer in spoken use. However, the Latin classes at Ursuline have been given the opportunity to fully appreciate how ancient Romans communicated by using oral Latin in the classroom. We were excited about the opportunity to encounter the language in a completely different way. 

A Memorial for Henrietta Lacks

Since the Lacks family finally got honored for the HeLa cells, I wanted to celebrate this long-deserved recognition in my AP Lang class. It just so happened that we were reading the book around the anniversary of Henrietta Lack’s death, so I felt it was the perfect time to have a memorial to commemorate her, honor her legacy, and give her the praise and acknowledgement that she deserved. 

outline sketch of the world with central and south america marked

“The opportunity found in America cannot be found anywhere else. The jobs offered in America cannot be found anywhere else. The diverse culture in America cannot be found anywhere else.”  These are the words I heard in my Spanish class from Wady, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic.

Halloween 2021 at Ursuline Academy

Since the school was extremely limited with what events and traditions we could take part in last year because of the pandemic, this Halloween event was the first real holiday that I experienced at Ursuline, making it one to remember.

Humans of Ursuline: Molly McFadden '11

To say Molly McFadden ‘11 has fulfilled the Ursuline mission of embodying faith, courage, and joy throughout her life would be an understatement. Molly studied history and theology at Harvard University, served in the military for four years as a military intelligence officer, and now works at Facebook as a policy enforcement investigator. She has carried out Ursuline’s mission during each stage of her life, pursuing a passion for service and bravery.

Humans of Ursuline: Anna Dolan '11

Ursuline alumnae follow many different, unique paths. Anna Dolan, a member of the Class of 2011, is no different. She has forged her own path ever since graduation, moving on to study economics at Harvard University, work in a private equity firm, and currently, teach at the Noble and Greenough School.

Humans of Ursuline: Mrs. Elizabeth Mahoney

Last summer, Spanish teacher Elizabeth Mahoney took her Spanish education one step further. When quarantine intercepted her trip to Spain, she was left with three free summer months and the question, “What skill would I like to have if I have another summer like this?” One 40 hour training course later, she became a certified medical interpreter.

Humans of Ursuline: Bermina Chery '21

Almost everyone at Ursuline knows Bermina Chery ‘21—her vibrant presence lights up every room she enters—but what many people do not know about Bermina is that she is very involved with the Mayor’s Youth Council of Boston, a group of high school students that come from every neighborhood in the city.

Humans of Ursuline: Bella Matthews '22

Serviam, meaning “I will serve,” is the prominent motto of Ursuline Academy, but it certainly does not limit itself to just the walls of 85 Lowder St. Serviam travels far and wide through Ursuline students and faculty. One student in particular, Bella Matthews ‘22, embodies Serviam perfectly through her nonprofit organization: Bella’s Food Drive Boston (BFDB).

Teaching a British Lit Class

As Ms. Mayo pulled up our Google Slides presentation on the smartboard, I could feel the anxiety start to creep in. I had never taught a lesson to my classmates before, especially not with the other members of my group attending class virtually from their homes. I glanced at my group members’ faces on the large screen positioned at the front of the classroom, wondering how well we would be able to pull this off. 

Humans of Ursuline: Mr. Michael O'Connor

Mr. O’Connor has worn many hats at Ursuline—as an accounting teacher, coach, father, athletic director, and even a member of the Board of Trustees. What fewer people may know is that he was a Boston police officer for over twenty years. Not feeling fulfilled as the commander of the police firing range, Mr. O’Connor asked to be reassigned and became the motion picture liaison who was in charge of overseeing security and police supervision at filming locations.

Bringing Classical Statues to the 21st Century

When you think of the art of ancient Greece, I’m sure one of the first images that comes to mind are the marble statues that are so quintessentially Classical. We picture the face of Diskobolos, resilient in the moments of stress before releasing his discus. We remember the raw emotion and physical perfection of the Seated Boxer, and the flowing robes of Winged Victory, billowing in the breezes of the sea. 

Humans of Ursuline: Catherine Treseler '18

Catherine Treseler ’18 pursues an interesting undergraduate experience, one different than most. Treseler currently studies mechanical engineering at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland.

Humans of Ursuline: Mrs. Lynne Petti

History teacher Mrs. Lynne Petti loves traveling all over the world and has led groups of Ursuline students through many European countries and even China. Mrs. Petti is eager to get back to traveling once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, she has been reminiscing about her past trips, recalling some mistakes she made in her early days of traveling.

Taking Love for a Language Beyond the AP Test

Like every other seventh grader, I walked into Ursuline Academy as a shy twelve-year-old. I had been coming from a public middle school of 900 students, and had no clue how I would find my place among only 60 others (now around 80). With a little extra work and significant might, I found a place within the French community at UA. I defied my own expectations and those that were placed in front of me, and I believe my time at Ursuline could not have been more nourishing. 

Out of the Box Thinking

Never would I have thought that I would be building a crime scene out of a shoebox for a school project. Well ... not until I entered Mr. Andersen’s Forensics class for the first time. Then it didn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Finding Hope and Joy During COVID-19

This is the spirit of the Ursuline community. We will face tough days, but we go through this together and still seek to find the joy in the present. These times are unprecedented, but we will get through them together as a community.

Delivering Acceptance Boxes: Perspectives from Current Students

On Saturday, March 7th, a week prior to social distancing measures changing how we live, current Ursuline students from grades 7-12 volunteered to distribute acceptance boxes to applicants who had been recently admitted to the school. The current students gathered at Ursuline at noon, and were given the addresses of those who would be receiving an acceptance box. 

A Circus Acrobat in the Making

At first glance, Kelly Folwell might seem just like your typical new eighth-grade student at Ursuline. This year, she has been diving on the swimming and diving team, making new friends, drawing and painting everywhere she goes, and getting used to life at Ursuline, but Kelly is not your average eighth-grader. She is also an acrobat for Commonwealth Circus Center in Jamaica Plain.

Madison Anderson: Finding a Passion in the Most Unlikely Places

Ursuline Academy fosters the motto Serviam, meaning “I will serve.” This motto is expressed daily as students often serve the UA community through numerous service projects. Detentions are one way that students can serve the community through discipline, as they help teachers complete various tasks while “serving time.”

My Ursuline Experience: Connecting the Dots

Ursuline Academy is a school with a challenging academic program, where students like me tend to sign up for many extracurricular activities. In my junior year, which is often known as the hardest year of high school, I see how  high standards, thoughts of college,  and looming deadlines can make you lose sight of the big picture. On November 3, 2019, the picture came into focus, big and bright.

Student Performers Find New Audiences Online

Upon traveling through Ursuline on any given morning, one can hear the sounds of a multitude of performing arts groups warming up and rehearsing, whether it be the Bearitones, choral group, chamber ensemble, or Psalm 98. However, several Ursuline girls have taken their passion for the arts a step further by blending media and music through creating Instagram accounts to feature their art. 

An Inspiring Message: Hank Phillippi Ryan's Book Tour

In early October, the Ursuline community had the opportunity to hear Hank Phillippi Ryan speak as part of her book tour for her new mystery novel, The Murder List. I’ll admit I did not know much about Ryan before hearing her speak, but I was immediately interested once I read her biography in the advertisement for her talk.

Taking A Chance: Making Connections, Gaining Confidence

I realized I had discovered an area of study totally unique to anything I had been exposed to before that deeply intrigued me, and this freedom of thought allowed me to become completely immersed in the thought in the real world.  This is what has made my junior year so special: I not only grew in my confidence to handle a heavy workload, but also in the belief in my external intellectual pursuits. 

Taking A Chance: My foray into theater

On September 19, 2018, I decided to take a chance on myself.   When I told my parents a week later that my last-minute audition had turned successful, and that I would be participating in the fall play as an actual actress, they were even more surprised. I jumped into this new world of theater with both feet. 

A safety message from Anatomy & Physiology

Now that summer is here, Ursuline Anatomy & Physiology students would like to remind you to apply sunscreen - lots of it!  This year, A&P students had the opportunity to use a face scanner provided by IMPACT Melanoma of Concord, MA ( to see the damage caused by the harmful rays of the sun.  

convent burning print

In the early 1800's, the Ursuline Sisters established Boston's first Catholic School next to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  In honor of Women's History Month, which occurs in March, we bring you this reprint from the Boston Pilot. 

Dominican Sisters Visit UA Theology Classes

On September 22nd, two Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia came to visit Ursuline Academy from their home in Nashville, Tennesee. In their completely white habits (talk about some treacherous spaghetti dinners for the rest of your life!), the Sisters joyfully walked onto campus with their Dunkin’ (formerly Donuts) coffee in hand. 

Friendship and French Braids

Picture it: Twenty-four girls on a yellow school bus talking, laughing, and singing their hearts out to a remix of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” on their way to their first field hockey game of the season. This was the first time all of us were going to play together with our coaches after three weeks of tryouts and preseason.

ua/xb choral retreat

Ursuline Academy Choral Group and the Xaverian Chorus gathered for a collaborative retreat in late September on the Xaverian campus.  The students began the day with prayer and reflection followed by some “Getting to know you” icebreakers.  The two groups then gathered in the music center as one chorus to begin learning some of the music they will be singing at a collaborative concert on January 16th.  

Graduation 2018

On a beautiful sunny afternoon in June, seventy-eight girls from the Class of 2018 followed in the tradition of their Ursuline sisters before them, as they processed down the convent steps wearing the traditional white gown and carrying a red rose bouquet.  

Why study Latin?

At the beginning of the school year, I asked my intermediate and advanced level classes to consider their purpose in Latin class beyond getting an A.  “You are the link,” I told them, “between our world today and the world of yesterday.  Caesar, Catullus, Vergil—their words will all be forgotten or reduced to caricature without your constant efforts to bring them to life.  

Oh the Places You'll Go . . .

Members of the Class of 2018 met in the iHub during their Guidance block to create personalized banners for the colleges that they may be attending in the fall. The banners will be laminated and displayed in the Guidance Department to showcase where their journey will take them after UA.

A Firsthand Look Inside the Mecca of Medicine

On March 1, Ursuline AP Chemistry students went on a field trip to Mass General Hospital’s Cancer Center, where they were hosted by Dr. David Ryan P'14 '16, Chief of Hematology/Oncology. There the students toured the facility, visited a lab, and learned first-hand about the work of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and Ph.D. researchers.

What Does Learning Look Like?

What does learning ‘look like’?  How can I tell when my students are actually learning? Even, what is learning?

My students in Spanish 2 have repeatedly shown me this month how they are learning and what they can do with it.  Mis estudiantes worked individually, then with a randomly chosen partner, a carefully paired partner, then in groups of three or four to create a menu, to write a restaurant review and to conduct a formal interview about ‘her’ restaurant.

Learning About Our Place In The Global Network

Social Studies teacher Mr. Michael Noyes is helping his students understand their connection to the global Ursuline community. In partnership with the iHub, 7th graders worked collaboratively to locate another Ursuline institution (secondary and collegiate) before learning about the school’s customs, region, and culture. 

At the culmination of the AP Literature unit on Chinua Achebe’s Nigerian novel Things Fall Apart, we were fortunate enough to have Ms. Rebecca Carr visit for a day to lead two roundtable discussions on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which Achebe cites as one of his influences; yet maybe not in the way one might think. Rebecca is a teacher of English at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, with a specialization in both early and modern British literature.

What's that big orange trailer?

The Ursuline parking lot had a new look during the week of January 29-February 2nd, as it became home to the Distractology van, a driving simulator developed by the Human Performance Lab at UMass Amherst to give students hands-on practice in safe driving techniques and how to avoid distractions behind the wheel. 

The Connecting Power of Serviam

When I was asked last month to join a group of alumnae volunteers to organize and wrap Christmas gifts at the Italian Home for Children in Boston, it brought me right back to my days at Ursuline. Volunteering has always left me with a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment but it wasn't until I started Ursuline in the 7th grade that my journey of Serviam began.

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Time "flies" when you're having fun at Ursuline, and for Ms. Maureen Dugan's AP Biology class, this adage was especially true on December 8.  On that day, ten students had the opportunity to visit MIT's Whitehead Institute and spend quality time alongside MIT scientists, analyzing fruit flies and expanding their knowledge of DNA and genetics.

Ursuline Swim Team Makes a Splash in 2017

The 2017 Ursuline Swim Team is making a big splash this season, capping it off by winning the Catholic Conference Championship Meet!  The team won 10 of the 12 events. The final team scores were:

  • Ursuline 231
  • NDA 173
  • Mount Alvernia 61
Celebrating Día de Muertos

Today my eighth-grade Spanish students enjoyed celebrating Days of the Dead (Día de Muertos) by crafting typical Mexican “juguetes” and “adornos” (toys and decorations).  The students made some beautifully decorated skeleton puppets and colorful magnetic skulls, typical symbols of Days of the Dead.

Finding Ursuline Wherever You Are

Call it the "small world" phenomenon or call it "fate," but life has a way of bringing about connections when you least expect it.  This proved to be the case for two members of the Class of 2018 who strengthened their Ursuline connections in their summer travels without any planning at all.

Living Simply, Loving Well

There is a saying that “if you want to love the poor, walk with them.”  Five Ursuline students and two faculty members lived out this saying in June by spending a week at the Bethlehem Farm Catholic community in Alderson, West Virginia and working in the local community on service projects to assist local families. The volunteers worked on a range of projects, including farming, construction, painting, gardening, and cooking for those who were out on job sites.  By witnessing poverty up close, coming to know local families on a personal level, working with animals, learning sustainable farming practices, and spending time in prayer and reflection, the students were exposed to a life-changing experience.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Ursuline students and parents once again showed their compassion and generosity by raising money to assist Syrian refugee families.  Sr. Elisa Ryan, Vocation Director for the Ursuline Sisters, recently reached out to thank the Dedham community for the assistance they provided to the Sisters who welcomed refugees in Salzburg and Vienna, Austria.  The Ursuline spirit provided funds to enable simple yet indispensable items like school supplies and uniforms, and larger items like much needed medical assistance.  

This year, two members of the class of 2017 served at a popular site for past Ursuline students - the Ellis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Norwood. Alex Rota and Ashley Mullen had both been fulfilling their year-long service requirements for five years at Ursuline, and they had been sitting in the audience as past seniors spoke about their service on Class Day for just as long. When it came time to select their service site for this year, they had a lot to reflect on before making their decision.

Two young Ursuline alumnae have a lot in common, from their days on the UA basketball court to their current careers as broadcast journalists. Caitlin Burchill '08 and Juli McDonald '06 began as fellow students, and have remained friends as fellow news reporters, with careers that have intersected and spanned the country.

Mary Kate Harrington ‘10, Carolyn Thorne ‘90, and Nancy Sinclair ‘86

The Ursuline tradition continued as the Alumnae office held its 20th annual Women In Leadership symposium in early March.  We proudly welcomed back to campus three alumnae who shared their experiences from their days at Ursuline to their current career roles.

A day at an art museum is typically an occasion for peaceful relaxation and treating the senses to images of tranquility and beauty.  However, some works of art, such as those designed to shock or that deal with themes that seem to impose a particular world view, can be challenging to comprehend for an audience of young students with varying degrees of exposure to such themes.   

On February 15, art teacher Caroline Rufo brought her expertise as a classroom teacher and a fine artist to a panel discussion at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts designed to help the museum’s “guide instructors” work with visiting school groups on how to engage with difficult works of art. 

Seventeen Ursuline students participating in The Memory Project completed portraits of children from Syria the week of January 3. The Memory Project is an initiative in which students create portraits for children around the world who have been neglected, orphaned, or disadvantaged.

On Tuesday, November 22, a favorite Ursuline tradition, the Juniors vs. Seniors Powderpuff event, took place on campus. This annual event was enjoyed by students, faculty/staff, alumnae, family and friends on a chilly but festive afternoon before the Thanksgiving break.

On Sunday, October 2 the Ursuline community once again made a difference in the lives of many by participating in Boston’s Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk. The dreary forecast did not deter 197 Ursuline walkers from making the trip into Boston to the Hatch Shell for the 9 am start and a 5 mile trek. This included students, 12 faculty and staff, several parents and alumnae. 184 of them ventured in on several school buses that departed from the school early that morning. These numbers were all the more impressive considering the junior class was away for their fall retreat.

On Sunday, September 18th, the Ursuline Choral Group gathered with the Xaverian Chorus for a day-long retreat, joining together both spiritually and in song. This event was run by the music directors from each school, Mrs. Glancy, our recently renamed Head of Fine Arts, and Mr. Brodeur, Xaverian’s music director. On this retreat, not only was music made, but the students also took part in many different activities designed to unite our communities.

On September 25, UA was well represented by the participation of 9th graders Olivia Lynch, Olivia Ryan, Mary Schiavo and Athletic Director Mike O'Connor, who all completed the 10K route of the 2016 Jimmy Fund Walk. They participated as part of Owen's Army, a team comprised of over 100 registered walkers who have participated in the past six years and raised over a half a million dollars for the DFCI in hopes of creating a future where cancer is eradicated. The team walked in honor of Owen Lynch who died of cancer at the age of three after a four month battle with rhabdomyosarcoma. Great job, UA!

These remarks were delivered by Maggie Chipman '17 to Ursuline 8th graders on the occasion of their Move Up Ceremony in May 2016.

Good morning ladies, and congratulations on officially becoming high school students! You may be wondering why I am here, but, four exams from now, I'll have made it through Junior Year, and with that I'll have gained a whole lot of knowledge to pass down to you about the high school years at the Academy.

Now, when I was in eighth grade, I would have heard a speech such as this preaching "wisdom", "advice", and "experience" and said, "She doesn't know me. I'm different. I will defy these expectations. I am not going to follow her path". If any of you can recognize this rhetoric repeating in your own mind, I simply say: take this as you will, but take this from someone who has been there.

Dear Seniors,

It's weird to think that you are going to be scattered across the country in a matter of months. The people that we have played sports with for years will be on someone else's teams. The faces we see everyday will spend their time in other hallways. The voices we've become so used to hear shouting down the hall will leave their final echoes in just a few short weeks.

At graduation and the related ceremonies of Baccalaureate Mass and Class Day, many members of Ursuline's Class of 2016 received scholarships or awards for their efforts in academics, athletics, or community service. Congratulations and best wishes go out to all of the graduates.

Serviam: the word means not only "I will serve" but also means "Let me serve."

Over February break, ten Ursuline students left their homes and their comfort zones far behind, and chose to spend their vacation break serving the poor as part of the Urban Challenge at Romero Center Ministries in Camden, New Jersey. While there, they learned that by working in service with those less fortunate, they received as much as they gave.

On the Tuesday before February vacation, about twenty members of the senior class gathered during their free period and successfully registered to vote in preparation for the upcoming primaries. As we approach the Massachusetts primary election, Ursuline students will be preparing for a primary election of their own. The major Democratic and Republican party candidates will be represented by one or two members of Mrs. Curtis' Civics and Current Events class. These students will be given the opportunity to campaign and share their candidates' policies with the rest of the student body. After the campaigning period is over, students will be given the chance to choose a party and vote for the candidate of their choice to become the foremost presidential candidate of that party. The winners of UA's primary election will be announced at the end of the school day.

Every May, dozens of Ursuline students sit for Advanced Placement exams in a wide range of subject areas. In May of 2015, 106 seniors, juniors and sophomores took 166 exams. Of these students, 43 achieved Scholar Status (see descriptions below) for their cumulative performance on all the tests taken in their high school career, with an overall average score of 4.06 on a 5 point scale.

We extend our congratulations to all students who completed AP courses and sat for these rigorous exams.

2022–2023 Interns


Paige Doherty

Caroline Killilea


Charlotte Ramsay


Krisanthi Boutalis

Ella Cusson

Nicole Daaboul

Maeve Fetter

Gabriella Kaplan

Claire Maloney

8th Graders

Lauren Connolly

Emma Healy