2011

Remembering Sr. Mary Denis Curran

You will be missed, Sr. Denis.

When I was a student at Rosati-Kain there was a teacher there named Sr. Denis.  As a 14-year old, she scared the living crap out of me.  She taught English and even though she was shorter than me, she was a force with which to be reckoned.  She always told us to “BE SPECIFIC” and God forbid you ever received that dreaded “check-minus” on your paper.  Freshman year was a daunting year.

I learned this morning that Sr. Denis has passed away.  I was just at Rosati on Monday and when I asked about her, I could tell something was amiss.  I got one of those sideways glances between teachers and a “Oh, yes…she’s fine.”  Sr. Denis passed away this morning after a brief illness.  She will be missed greatly.

I thought I would share a very vivid memory I have of Sr. Denis here.

When I was a freshman in 2002-2003 I was certain that Sr. Denis did not like me. My parents did not believe me when I would tell them this.

At parent-teacher conferences, my mother told Sr. Denis what I thought and Sr. Denis replied, “Well, she hasn’t given me a reason to like her.” It was true, I was constantly behind on my 2400 steps and still dotted my “i” with circles.

After having made it through freshman English by the skin of my teeth, I had Sr. Denis again my senior year. I was a much better student at this point and stopped with the “circle dots” on my i’s. I asked Sr. Denis to write my recommendation letter to college because she was one of the teachers who had really seen how far I had come since freshman year.

She wrote a glowing letter about my ability as a student. Her letter was instrumental in my acceptance into my first choice college. In the end, I guess I gave her a reason to like me after all.

I will never forget her. She was an amazing woman and an even more amazing English teacher. She helped turned many 14-year-old girls into an 18-year-old young women with the ability to write and speak in complete and coherent sentences. That was no easy feat in this day and age. She will be missed.

Sr. Denis gave 36 years of service to Rosati in the English department.

Thank you so much, Sr. Denis, for everything.

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Reminiscing About Rosati

Rosati-Kain High School

Allow me to begin by saying that I really did not like high school.  I was an awkward , ugly duckling on drugs.  However, since leaving high school, I’ve gone to college and joined the “real world” causing me to realize a couple of things about my high school, Rosati-Kain.

First off, for being an all-girls Catholic school, Rosati-Kain is a fairly “liberal” environment.  This is not a bad thing in my book.  As students, we still got a well-rounded religious education but we also got to learn…biology and anatomy.  You know, important stuff.  There was none of that “intelligent design” bullshit.  We learned about God and right down the hall we learned about cells and how they build the body (I’m sure there were mentions of God in science class but they were few and far between).  We were also taught and allowed (encouraged even) to think for ourselves when it came to religion, which is an amazing and necessary aspect of any religious education.

Speaking of education and classes, the curriculum at Rosati was incredible.  It was challenging and engaging.  As a college preparatory school, they really do their job.  Most of the students will go to college and get a degree.  What’s more than just going to college is being prepared for the classes and coursework.  Rosati does an amazing job with this and I was more than prepared than the majority of my peers.  (There’s also a great deal of freedom in the classes you choose to take…very important).

The location is amazing and really an integral part of the Rosati’s charm.  The Central West End is a refreshing oasis in the shit-hole that is Saint Louis.  It’s a like a tiny Georgetown in the middle of an otherwise blighted city.  I cannot think of any other location in Saint Louis where you can see a protest against Planned Parenthood on one corner and a man in a wedding dress with hot pants on another.  There is so much culture in the area all within walking distance from school (I have great memories of time spent with friends).

Finally, I want to touch on the most amazing part of Rosati: the faculty and staff.  I have never attended any other school where the faculty and staff care so much about the students.  I graduated in 2006 and I’ve been back to Rosati on occasion (today, in fact).  Even after five years, the teachers still know my name and they genuinely care about what is going on in my life.  I’ve had college professors who get to know me for 16 weeks and after the final is turned in, they have no idea who I am and couldn’t care less about what happens to me.  Even though there are just a few teachers still at the school from my time, I still feel welcomed by all the faculty, staff, and students (old and new).

Rosati-Kain helps girls develop into outspoken and courageous young women who are ready to take on the world.  Rosati helps give women the skills and virtues needed to succeed in life.  Rosati does not only teach “book smarts,” but also “street smarts” and “life lessons.”  The curriculum, location, and teachers create a perfect storm that created an amazing high school experience.

Melody Federer: An Americaine in Paris

When I was in high school, there was a wonderful and goofy girl in my class named Melody Federer.  She had an amazing singing voice and had big dreams of using her voice to take her places.  There were other girls in my class who also had dreams of singing and dancing on Broadway and such, but Melody was different and she still is.

Melody has a way of making everyone feel welcome.  She is gorgeous and talented but so down-to-earth you’d have no idea that she is actually quite a star.  She is simply a one of a kind person.

After high school,  she lived in Paris for a bit, singing in cafes, and has returned to United States, living first in New York City and now Los Angeles.   She’s making music and making a huge splash as the Inventress of Stride Pop.  Stride Pop (as quoted from Melody’s website) is “an original genre of music combining 1930’s stride piano of Montmartre and Harlem with the more contemporary, fresh bouncy sound of today.”

Her new album An Americaine in Paris is fantastic.  It is upbeat and perky and when listening I can’t help but smile.  Melody was even being considered for Grammy nominations in six different categories!

I highly recommend taking a look at her music videos on YouTube (or below) and perhaps purchasing her music from iTunes or Amazon.  You can also learn more about her on her website.

Personal Disclosure: A Childhood Drugged

I was a difficult child, I admit that.  It is here that the story begins.

My story starts when I was three-years-old.  I was an extremely intelligent and bright child, but also very stubborn.  This wasn’t just normal stubborn, however, but a violent and explosive demand to do what I wanted when I wanted.  I began seeing a shrink shortly thereafter and was diagnosed with Oppositional-Defiant Disorder.  I didn’t have ODD however.  This misdiagnosis pattern would continue for many years and my parents and I would run the gamut of childhood mental disorders.  I was OCD, ADHD, ADD, depressed, etc…which called for many medications.  By the time I was 9 years old I was taking or had taken Ritalin, Paxil, Clonadine, Adderal, and Adderal XR.

Fast forward to age 15 and I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and the drug Risperdal was added to my cocktail.  I was supposed to consider my diagnosis a  blessing (“You’re lucky they caught it so early” as if I had cancer and I could be cured).  I felt like a zombie though.  In fact, I don’t remember a great deal of high school at all…or much of age 9 to 22 for that matter.

When I was 22 I decided to take a radical move.  I wasn’t entirely sure that I needed all that medication.  My boyfriend, Jon, knew I didn’t need all that medication.  So together, Jon and I weaned me off all the drugs little by little. It was a miserable, awful week of withdrawal but Jon and I weathered it together.  And now I’m ok…I’m still here.

I did not have a mental illness after all.  I was just a stubborn kid with a jealous streak who turned into a angsty teenager.

Now that I can think clearly, I’m me again.  I’m outgoing and I approach people and talk to them, instead of “turtling”.  It’s amazing to be me once more.  I can’t help but wonder, though, where I would be today if I had never been on the drugs in the first place.  I didn’t need them and I feel like they held me back.  I probably would have more friends from high school and college.  I’d probably have a Bachelor’s degree and maybe even a Masters.  On the flip side, I probably would not have met Jon.  I probably would not be a veterinary technician.  It will do me no good to think about the “what if’s” but I must instead think about the “what now’s.”

Even after all the drugs and doctors, however, I don’t hate the psychologists or the medication.  Looking back on where I was, I understand why my parents thought the medication was a good idea.  I WAS miserable, and they were trying to help.  I can’t blame them or anyone else for trying to help give me a better existence.  I might not remember a lot of those days when I was on drugs, but the ones I do remember were happy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I still have my bad days but now I find me giving myself private pep talks to ward off my fears and anxiety. At age 24 I’m finally happy.

Three Down, One to Go!

Sometimes, the behavior of college kids makes me wonder how old students are...

As of today, I have completed my third semester of my veterinary technology program.  This is exciting because I only have ONE MORE SEMESTER until GRADUATION.  This is even more exciting because it has taken me FIVE YEARS to get this one Associates degree.  I’m super excited because I’m getting a second degree in general studies.  It has taken five years to get both of these degrees.

I’m FUCKING EXCITED.  It’s a small victory but I’m thrilled to be done with the busy work.  Next fall, I move on to the University of Minnesota to get a Bachelors of Science in Biology.  After that, Vet School.

I’m almost there.

So close, yet so far.