“13 Reasons Why” talking points and an invitation to learn more about “When things fall apart”


Many teenagers are watching the Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”.   I encourage you to talk with your daughters about it if they are watching it.  On the positive side, it opens up the conversation on teen suicide, on the flip side, it does not address alternatives to suicide nor does it discuss the terms mental illness or depression.    I have included some really important talking points to discuss with your child on this issue, specifically if they are watching this series or reading the book.  The tips come from JED. JED is a national nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.    Talking Points


I want to let you know that Sion will be hosting psychologist and speaker, Dr. Kelly Jameson, at our High School campus on the evening of May 3, from 7-9 pm. Dr. Jameson will be speaking to both parents and teens on managing adolescent and young adult depression, stress, and anxiety.  This will be our third event hosting Dr. Jameson at Sion, but we decided to invite all local school administrators, parents and teens (7th grade +) to join us for this free community wellness event.  As a principal and/or current parent with teens at home or young adults at college, I also invite and encourage you to attend this important event and “space for family dialogue”. 

The flyer and press release for the event are here and our communications team will be posting the flyer on our school social media sites, so please feel free to email or pass on the information as appropriate.  Dr.Jameson Press release        dr. jameson poster-final (1)


April Showers Greet our ISACS Team

Welcome to the Paris of the Plains

A famous poet once said “April is the cruelest month”   Not at Sion! April is starting with an exciting and wonderful opportunity.  The ISACS (Independent Schools of the Central States) Accreditation Team arrived last night!  We had a wonderful reception with the amazing Taylor Ramsey ’17, opening prayer with a powerful song.  The team will be here through Wednesday as they learn about our school, our history, our mission and our excellence.  Accreditation is a seven-year cycle, with paperwork submitted each year and a visit on the seventh year.  Sion is the only Catholic school in Kansas City that is accreditated by this prestigious association of independent schools. The chair of the team, Ann Klotz, is the Head of Schools for the Laurel School in Shaker Heights, OH.  In 2007, Laurel founded the Center for Research for Girls.  A center that focuses specifically on how girls learn.  We are honored to have Ann and the entire ISACS team on our campus this week.  Welcome to Kansas City!

April Showers will bring May Flowers

April arriving means one thing, May is right around the corner.  Yes, for senior parents, graduation will be here in a blink of an eye. For all graduation information, please click here Sion Graduation Information  .We have many events coming up that ate sure to keep us all busy-  Junior ring ceremony, NHS Induction, Awards Ceremony, Mother/Daughter Senior Luncheon, Mother’s Club Luncheon, Prom, spring concert, finals, and yes, graduation. So for many of you, college is coming up!   Whether it be your first, your last, or your only, each young adult handles the transition a little differently.   With three current college students of my own, I used to wonder why so many books were written for how to parent babies and toddlers, yet very few on how to parent college kids. It is a unique time in your parenting life.  So I want to share with you a wonderful resource for parents of high school and college-aged kids.  It is called Grown and Flown.  You can follow them on Facebook and on their web page http://www.grownandflown.com.  They cover topics on everything from how to manage the college visit to how to handle the first summer coming home.   It is appropriate for high school and college age. I hope you find it a useful resource. I certainly have.

Metro Sports Coach of the Year

The finalists are in and our very own basketball coach, Kate Pilgreen, is a finalist!  Please take time to vote early and vote often!  The link is listed below.  You can vote as many times as you like.  Congratulations, Coach Pilgreen!  You are always at winner at Sion!

Vote for Coach Kate Pilgreen








From New York to Australia with a stop in Costa Rica!


Congratulations to Mrs. Casey Engel, English Department Chair, and nine Sion juniors in Mrs. Engel’s English class who entered the 2016 New York Times’ Learning Network Student Writing Contest. They received national recognition for their participation in this prestigious writing contest. For the second year in a row, NYT challenged teenagers to go out and experience works of culture that were new to them and then write up their reactions and opinions for our Student Review Contest. Over 1,250 students submitted entries.

Top 10 winner
Morgan Hickman, “Lolita: Beauty Versus Crime” (see her work on the link below)

National Runners-Up (out of 24 selected)
Emma Miller, “Amanda Knox: A Social Critique”
Meg Schwartz, “‘The Hole’: A New York City Gem”

Honorable Mentions (6 Sion students selected out of 28 awards)
Sydney Crawford, “Josey Records Leads Vinyl Revival”
Ally Crumb, “Kate McKinnon’s Hallelujah”
Catherine Dehaemers, “Sway, Swish, Splash: ‘The Dory’ by Edward Hopper”
Lauren Ismert, “Cocktails and Breakfast: A Perfect Mix”
Moriana Jaco, “A Seat at the Grammys: Solange Knowles Sings Boldly in Her Triumphant Return”
Paige Ritter, “Interview With a Serial Killer”


Notre Dame de Sion SchoolNotre Dame de Sion Alumnae(i)



We are so pleased to welcome the Head of School of Our Lady of Sion, Box Hill, Australia, Mrs. Tina Apostolopoulos.  Tina joins 10 Australian exchange students that are being hosted by the following families.  We are very thankful to our Sion families who participate in the exchange program.  The program relies on our Sion families to host and are very grateful!

USA Student Australia Student
Gabi Atchity Alexandra Sonali
Isabella Edgar Kaitlin O’Connor
Grace Frame Christine Ntais
Anneliese Glickley Charlotte Adams
Gabby Lord Gemma Merry
Ellie Magsamen Rachael Leeson
Bailey Runchey Amelia Sizeland
Anna Tomka* Alisha Centrone
Meg Travis Madison Sampson
Lucy Voysey Amy Rowe
Lauren Wyatt* Alisha Centrone


We also want to send a warm welcome the teachers and students from the Sion School in Costa Rica! I visited the school in Costa Rica a couple years ago and loved the Sion connection there. Many Sion sisters live at the school and there is a home for retired Sion sisters.  It is such a wonderful connection.

Lucy Steyer María José Murillo Rosales

Chloe Long Priscilla Mora Picado

Peyton Dow Montserrat Mendoza Salas

Angela Sandoval Andrea Jimena Retana Matamoros

Sydney San Agustin Valeria Renata Cerdas Jiménez

Jacob Duckworth Roberto Stallman Mata

Ross Vedder Emmanuel Cortés Acuña

Grady Schmitz Carlos Esteban Bulgarelli Hernández


Alison Long David Mora

Alicia Gómez Diana Nassar

Please join us for SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL!

A big thank you to Director Dan O’Connell, Set Design Instructor, Laura Burkhart, Musical Director, Elizabeth Mulkey, and Brad Shaw, Choreographer, for sharing all of their talent with our students.




Dr. Kelly Jameson

Happy December Parents!  It was great to see so many of you attend our professional speaker, Dr. Kelly Jameson.  We are so thankful for the time she spent with students, faculty, and parents.  As both an educator and a parent of four young adults, I certainly learned many new things.  I wanted to send to you the list of recommended reading she left for the faculty.  These are all great books for parents and educators of teens.  There are a couple of books specifically for raising boys as well.  For those of you getting ready to send kids to college, the book “Letting Go with Love and Confidence” is a great read.  There is also a wonderful Facebook page called Grown and Flown that is a resource for parents of students in college or heading there.  Parenting and educating teens today  is a wonderful, powerful and tough job.  Thank you for being partners with us in this most important vocation.


Mother/Grandmother/Daughter Mass

We want to make sure all our mother and grandmothers know they are invited to our annual Mother/Grandmother/Daughter Mass tomorrow morning at 8:00 am in the gym.  Tomorrow is supposed to be quite a cold day in Kansas City, so we strongly encourage students and parents to carpool to school and mass if possible.  We hope to see you there!

I want to thank all of our wonderful parents for the faculty appreciation days that you provide for us each month.  It is such a kind and generous act and we truly do love it!  Thank you so much!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!





Raising Capable Adults

As a mom and a principal, my career  has certainly swayed my parenting decisions over time.   I watched in a K-8  school how the “cute” misbehaviors that earned laughter from adults, can turn into not so cute behaviors in middle school and then down right dangerous behavior in high school.  I watched, over many  years, how difficult it is to suddenly teach accountability during teens years if it wasn’t taught in younger years. I now see how accountability in high school  also affects the transition as they go into college.

Being a child of a principal had its challenges, my son would often tell his younger twin sisters,  “just tell mom, she is going to find out anyway”.  But they also saw a benefit! I held the key to their school and could get in 24 hours a day!  It certainly would have been easy to save them from the occasional ” I forgot something in my locker”  but I rarely did.  I hope as my kids are all in college now, a place I certainly don’t have the keys to, that they appreciate the accountability they were given.  So this month, I share with you, a light hearted blog that I found valuable.  After all, we are trying to raise capable adults.  I hope you enjoy!


Encountering God in a Catholic Atmosphere that Respects all Faith Traditions

Welcome to the September Issue of the McDonough Memo.  This year, the memo will come out on the first Monday of each month.  Please continue to check the Wednesday Weekly for announcements and upcoming events.

The school year has started of with so many wonderful events and activities welcoming our new faculty, students, and staff.  First semester is in full swing and we hope to see you at Parent/Teacher Conferences on September 23.  With all the busy sporting, school, and extra curricular events happening, I want to take this month to focus on our Catholicity and spiritual life. Sion continues the tradition of the founding sisters, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion, inviting students to encounter God in a Catholic atmosphere that respects all faith traditions. The school partners with families and the community to prepare students for socially responsible, values based leadership in a culturally and religiously diverse world. I want to honor and thank our Theology department and our Campus Ministry.  They include Stephanie Pino-Dressman-Campus Minister, Bonnie Haghirian, Paul Kramschuster, Polly Holmes and Jessica Hull (Curriculum Coordinator).  We welcome and sincerely invite all parents to attend our faith opportunities at our all school masses, class masses, adoration, our weekly morning masses and to our student led  Divine Mercy Chaplet  which will be held every Friday morning.  I have included the Spiritual Calendar that includes dates of upcoming events. Please also follow us on Twitter @Sionhsministry @sionkc @nataliemcdsion

MASS sion

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary-All School Mass

If you were not able to join us, please see the pictures below of our all school mass on September 8 and some quotes from parents, students, and faculty. Thank you parents, Pam Kramer, Kathy Arroyo and Mary Quinn for helping with the Miraculous medals the students received at mass.

Today’s mass, to me, was the model of the Sion charism.  It was the most sacred expression of our Catholic faith, deeply rooted in the scriptures, witnessing to God’s love for all people, celebrated in an inclusive, respectful way.   – Parent, Pam Kramer 

It made me cry-Penny Selle, Sion Mission Director

Student Quotes

When we walked in, I could smell the candles and it felt like I was walking into Church.

I really liked how Fr. Thomas brought Mary and Mother Teresa together in the homily, talking about how they both had courage in the dark times of their lives. (Emma Warren)

I liked the homily, because it was relevant to us as teenagers.  I never had thought of Mary being our age, but she was, and the problems she faced were real. 
The lighting, the statue and all the candles made it so beautiful I forgot I was in a gym.
Everything was so put together, it all had one theme.  

It’s amazing that we had a relic of Mother Teresa!

Thank you to Kimberly Clementi for the loan of her beautiful relic, a card signed by Saint Teresa at Christmas time 1978. Not many have access to something touched by a Saint. It was truly beautiful to get to see and touch.

The Saint John’s Bible

The St. John’s bible is the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press.

The Saint John’s Bible is divided into seven volumes and is two feet tall by three feet wide when open. The Bible is made of vellum, with 160 illuminations, and according to Abbot John Klassen has cost an estimated $8 million to produce. The version of the Bible used is the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE). A copy of the Bible has been presented to the Pope at the Vatican in several volumes, with the final volume being presented on 17 April 2015.

Through an arrangement with Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, where the Bible is on loan, Notre Dame de Sion students will have an opportunity to view the Pentateuch and the Gospels of the St. John’s Bible.  We are grateful to our Sion parents, Larry Ehren and Rev. Christy Dorn Ehren for assisting us in this wonderful occasion.The Bible will be placed in our Chapel, and teachers will sign up to take their classes in for viewing. In this year of celebrating our stories, the Bible comes to us as the greatest of all stories. Students will also see a short documentary on the hand work of this Bible.

The beautiful Grotto awaits the statue of Mary.  We are so grateful to have such a prayerful space outdoors for our student, athletes, faculty, parents and the entire community.




A very important part of our faith community and mission from the Sisters of Sion is the welcoming and respect of all faith traditions.  Pope Francis has spoken of this importance numerous time.

Sion’s  Student Interfaith Club is led by Mary Shevlin and Elizabeth Puthumana.


Notre Dame de Sion Spiritual Calendar 2016-2017



Summer News!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer and enjoying this heat! Just in case you are having some summer withdrawals from the McDonough Memo, I thought I better check in. There are many amazing things that happened since school was released in May.  I often get asked “do you work in the summer? Is there anything to do?” Well the answer is, “yes, there is a lot to do!”  We close the past school year and get ready to open for a new one . Just a sampling of summer fun included  Sion Admissions hosting a Sweet Treat Social for incoming freshman and a day of service at Giving the Basics. On the academic side, Sion hosted summer school in math and english for incoming freshman, art camps, and college essay writing classes,to name a few. One of our shining programs in the summer and during the school year is our exchange program.  This summer, we have students traveling to Costa Rica, Germany, France, and Australia!

FullSizeRender (3)


In athletics, head coaches hosted camps in the sports of volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse , basketball, cheer, and dance.  At cheer camp, Sion Cheer was Game Day Top Team, earned a bid to Nationals, another Spirit Stick & Courtney Hiatt was named All-American! They compete at Missouri State Regionals on July 23rd.


We are working on completion of the new beautiful grotto, giving the library a fresh new look, and a few other small projects in the building. One of the highlights of June  was the hosting of the WIN camp for Girls in which we had 300+ girls ages  six to twelve exposed to sixteen different sports and fitness activities. A big thank you to Kate Pilgreen, Sarah Johnson, and Andy Sheer for coordinating with the WIN foundation and for all of our Sion student volunteers!


I can’t mention all of the exciting summer happenings, without highlighting the amazing achievements of our Sion  Storm Soccer Team! What an amazing season ending!


Team Honors, record 20-5
State Champions, back to back
Ranked #19 in the country by USA Today/NSCAA
Ranked #30 in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com
Along the way, Sion Soccer defeated 3 state champions ; had 8 games against nationally ranked teams, defeating 4 of them; surrendered only 9 goals against and earned 18 shutouts, not giving up a goal during the entire playoffs!

Individual Honors 

Izzy Romano, Stephanie Ostrander, Afton Fennewald, Meghan Frerking, Gabrielle  Grimaldi, Catherine Dehaemers, Paige Dussold, Laney Ulowetz, Paige Ritter

Izzy Romano, Stephanie Ostrander, Afton Fennewald, Meghan Frerking, Gabrielle Grimaldi, Catherine Dehaemers
Regional Player of the Year-Izzy Romano
Regional Goal Keeper of the Year- Afton Fennewald

Izzy Romano, Stephanie Ostrander, Afton Fennewald, Meghan Frerking, Gabrielle Grimaldi, Catherine Dehaemers

STATE Offensive Play of the Year-Izzy Romano

STATE Goal Keeper  of the  Year-Afton Fennewald

 Missouri Coach of the Year – Private, Class 3 and Region 4 Coach of the Year-Matt Darby

I hope you enjoy your July before we start getting full swing into the 2016-2017 school year!  You should have received your summer mailing so  please send the forms in as soon as possible.


It’s all about the Celebration!

The season goes on for the second year in a row!

Although school has ended for  most, for our amazing Sion Soccer team the season is still going strong!  For the second time in a row ,our Sion Storm Soccer team is headed to State!  With a 3-0 shut out win against the Grain Valley Eagles on May 28th, the Storm qualified to move on to the state semi-finals.  The Storm will meet Our Lady of Incarnate from St. Louis on Friday, June 3 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field in  the Swope Soccer Village.  Please be there to cheer them on! Follow me on Twitter for up to date scoring! @nataliemcdsion



A beautiful day from beginning to end

May 26, the Class of 2016 began a long and amazing day.  They handled it with class and beauty and celebration.  We will miss you but welcome you to the next class of Alumnae!  I want to offer a very big thank you to all the faculty and staff at Sion, along with students and parents that made this day possible and beautiful.

It begins with Mass and this year we had the honor of Bishop Johnston presiding, with Fr. Jerry Waris and Fr. Sunoj Thomas concelebrating, at the Cathedral of  the Immaculate Conception.



The day came to a close with a beautiful ,traditional Sion Commencement at the amazing Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.



In the Dressing Room waiting…Photo Chris Broderick



Photo Credit April Schendel


Celebrating Art!

I want to take this week to highlight and celebrate our Fine Arts Department and specifically visual art.   A huge thank you to the Curriculum Coordinator of the department this past year, Jenny Campbell.  Known mostly as JCam, she has been an amazing leader, worker, thinker, organizer and all around rock star!  She will pass the torch to Mr. Michael Pesselato this fall as she continues to lead the literary arts and he chairs the visual and performing arts.

I  want to thank all of the faculty that make up our arts department: Michael Pesselato, Jenny Campbell, Linda Blasdel, Carol Wall-Simmons, Alison Long, Kathy McShane, Elizabeth Mulkey, Leslie Pollack, Penny Selle, and  Kathleen Schuler. Their hard work , talent, and passion for the arts is an inspiration to our young women.

I also want to thank our Fine Arts Booster Club!

FAB Board 2015-16

President: Kathy Arroyo
Secretary: Kathy Hedges-Sell
Treasurer: Betsy Guastello
Musical: Molly Williams/Lori Harvey
Her Majesty’s Theatre: Lisa Cocks
Visual Arts liaison: Kenda Tomes
Volunteer coordinator: Kara Ciocca

 The legacy continues past high school:

Eight seniors are majoring in the fine/performing/visual arts in college with the following majors:

– BFA Studio art
– BFA Directing (theatre)
– BFA Animation & digital cinema
– Music Technology
– Theatre
– Graphic design (3)

One of the newest additions to our department was the National Arts Honor Society. Congratulations to the following students as  the inaugural inductees into the society.

National Arts Honor Society

  • ELIZABETH ARROYO* (President)
  • HONOR SCHLEICHER (secretary/treasurer)

I would also like to recognize our TriM (National Music Honor Society) Members

Mena Biraralign
Clare Carey
Isadora Comens
Jade Harvey
Guthrie Kimball
Gabby Lord
Madison Masilionis
Zoë Mulkey
Olivia Neal
Aneliese Peeler
Taylor Ramsey
Cheyanne Teasley

National Congressional Art Awards

The following ladies received the National Congressional Art Award: Their artwork is shown below




Grand Boulevard of the America’s Banner Competition

Happy to announce we have 2 winners for the Grand Blvd. of the America’s Banner Competition. These two young ladies’ art will fly on the Grand Blvd of America for five years.  Thank you to Mr. Michael Pesselato for his lead and work in organizing the girls’ entries.

Morgan Hickman for “Brazilian Life” representing Brazil.
Sammie Nesslein for “Peruvian Daze” representing Peru.

Looking Ahead

Save the date for these 2016-2017 events:






FRIDAY, MARCH 3RD @ 7:00 PM : SION SCHOOL PLAY-Rosie the Riveter


College Decision Time!

May 1st is National College Decision Day, the date by which high school seniors across the country commit to the college of their choice. At Sion, we celebrated College Decision day on Friday, April 29. Faculty and staff represented their alma maters by wearing their college shirts and starting each class period with a brief story about their personal college choice. Seniors sported their college logos and celebrated the day with a class photo, followed by a fire pit, shaved ice, and a t-shirt swap.


The graduating senior class consists of 112 talented young women. These soon-to-be alumnae received 383 college acceptances to 131 different colleges…and this fall, they will be venturing off to attend 53 universities across the country and abroad. 88% of the class indicated they were accepted into the school of their first choice! Congratulations to the Class of 2016  on your college decisions!

Please see attached list of College Acceptances & Matriculations for the Class of 2016.

Class of 2016 Acceptances

Blue Star’s Rising
Please congratulate Olivia Neal on her nomination for Blue Star’s Rising Star Scholarship!  The Rising Star Scholarship is a $2,500 scholarship awarded to one female and one male high school student who made outstanding contributions to their high school’s theatre program.  The winner will be announced on Thursday, May 19th at the Annual Blue Star Awards Banquet hosted by Starlight Theatre and beginning at 7:30 pm.  Congratulations to Olivia!