METHUEN — Presentation of Mary Academy (PMA) in Methuen, a co-education Catholic high school, offers students an impressive number of interscholastic and intramural sports. Both a member of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference (CAC) and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), its teams and athletes have consistently received recognition for high performance on the field. Athletics are certainly an integral part of PMA culture.
That might be, in part, due to the dedication and leadership of longtime PMA social studies teacher and athletic director Stephen Stankus, though he wouldn’t admit it.
Stankus began teaching at PMA fresh out of college, back in 1970. The school was new then, having been formed only 12 years earlier in 1958, and was at that time an all girl’s school.
There wasn’t much in the way of sports back then, Stankus acknowledged to The Pilot in a May 11 interview. He mentioned a basketball team that had started possibly “three or four years” before he started teaching, but other examples were few.
With a small staff and student body, Stankus immediately began serving as a faculty advisor for the team, mostly carrying out the “volunteerish” position by filling out paperwork.
Only two or three years later, he was asked to coach the junior varsity basketball team. He hadn’t done a lot with sports in high school or college himself, but agreed to coach the team. Stankus found he liked coaching, and the students seemed to like him, and his career in PMA athletics had begun.
Stankus coached the JV basketball team for the next 10 years, and then coached the varsity team for 10 years after that. During that time, the school added new sports, including volleyball and softball, and Stankus also signed on to coach varsity softball in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Soccer, track and field, and cross country would also be added in that time period.
Summing it up simply, he said “Basically, I got into the sports in the ’70s, and then softball came in the ’80s, and I’ve pretty much been associated with some sport since then.”
It was also during that time period that Stankus said he “semi-officially” began working as athletic director, and eventually officially served in the position for the past 20 years. The school became co-education in 2010, and added in boys’ sports during the time.
As athletic director, Stankus said, he goes to league meetings, coordinates buses and travel for away games, works with officials, serves as the contact person for the Commonwealth Conference, and handles some of the business side of things, too.
In spite of his many responsibilities as athletic director, Stankus has maintained his teaching schedule, even adding in more advanced history and social studies courses to offer students. He loves what he does, he said, but “step by step by step” his responsibilities have started to become unmanageable.
As a result, Stankus will step down as athletic director at the end of this school year. He’ll remain on as a teacher, and will try to attend as many games as possible, he said, but the school is already looking for a replacement and he won’t be nearly as active in sports as he once was.
When asked if he believes he helped create PMA’s current athletic program, he said he more thinks of himself as a member of a team.
“I just see me as kind of like a background person, that will make sure the schedules are all set and the communication is all done and the officials are all lined up,” he said. “I help, I help.”
Rose Maria Redman, PMA Head of School, told The Pilot April 27 that Stankus is “probably one of the most incredible teachers and coaches you’d ever meet.”
A member of the PMA class of 1985, Redman said she actually had Stankus as both a teacher and a basketball coach.
“He’s always been able to relate to his students, and has always been able to motivate them,” she said.
Stankus will be missed as athletic director, she said, adding that she is happy he is continuing to stay on as a teacher.
“He is professional, he is honest, he is kind, he is the epitome of a Catholic educator,” she said. Stankus “puts his students before anyone else.”
PMA Celebrates Renovation Completion with Ribbon Cutting
Presentation of Mary Academy (PMA) held a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the newly transformed atrium style entrance and updated foyer and offices, improving the overall layout, functionality, and accessibility of the spaces.
In June PMA held a groundbreaking to begin construction of these spaces. The school is housed on the grounds of the late Edward F. Searles and the section that was renovated was his former carriage house constructed in the late 1800’s. The Sisters of the Presentation purchased the property and opened the Academy in 1958. The time had come to commit to a complete renovation.
In addition to adding an updated entrance, providing accessibility with a handicapped ramp and automatic doors making the front of the building completely accessible, additions such a lift and an accessible bathroom were also added. The glass enclosed atrium offers a spacious waiting area and the foyer, classrooms, and several offices were moved and renovated including the main office, Head of School and Guidance department.
This is a very exciting day, said Rose Maria DiFiore Redman, ’85, Head of School. It was not an easy process but our community was committed to improving the security and safety of our students and staff. This added much needed accessibility to the Historic Carriage House section of the school. Improvements made will impact students’ lives for years to come.
PMA Students Live the Mission
Presentation of Mary Academy provides a quality education that seeks to integrate Catholic beliefs and values with academic excellence, thus empowering young women and men to assume roles of leadership and service to family, Church and community.” This is the Academy’s mission and we are thrilled to see it come to life in the hearts and lives of our students. Simon Rodriguez, a senior at Presentation of Mary Academy (PMA), has always dreamed of majoring in Computer Science at a top university. However, he never thought it possible until he attended Presentation of Mary Academy.
PMA asks students to give more of themselves each day, staying true to the school’s motto, “Discover You.” PMA inspires a culture of learning and growth by combining a quality education centered around Catholic values and encouraging leadership and service.
Simon attributes this philosophy as the driving force behind his path to success and his personal growth. Through his membership in PMA’s National Honor Society and Interact Club, he has developed a passion for community service. He is an active participant in the school community and always volunteers at PMA-sponsored events and activities.
The greatest gift he has received while at PMA was an opportunity this past summer to participate in the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Notre Dame. Each year, the university selects only 30% of global applicants to participate in this academically competitive program. Students live in the dormitories, attend classes, and participate fully in the culture of Notre Dame. Each student selects a research track to study during his/her stay. Simon chose Research Computing, which is dedicated to learning how computers are applied to solve the most complex of world problems and how they fuel discovery in the science field.
While there, Simon traveled to Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to learn about Mira, the ninth-most powerful supercomputer in the world, and Argonne’s future projects. According to Simon, “ this was a truly humbling experience to be invited to one of the most famous schools in the United States…and through the hard work of the wonderful staff at Presentation of Mary Academy, I was presented a scholarship to attend the program absolutely free of charge.”
The connections Simon made at the University of Notre Dame have enabled him to form a network full of ample opportunities, rare for a student of his age. Scott Hampton, PhD of the Information Technology Center of the University of Notre Dame states, “Simon was…very engaged and very bright, a good programmer in his own right. He has the capability to be successful and would certainly add value to the student body if he chooses to attend Notre Dame.”
Simon is not the first student from PMA to be affiliated with Notre Dame. Jinelfry Rodriquez, ’15 and Sebastian Lopez, ’15, were accepted to the University of Notre Dame, class of 2019. Jinelfry is currently studying Psychology and Sebastian is a Political Science major.
Before entering high school, it was difficult for Simon to see his unique talents and gifts. He did not perceive how his actions could make a difference in the world. Throughout his time at PMA, that has changed, “…my teachers, counselors, family, and friends saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. That experience allowed me to blossom in high school to a degree that I never thought I could achieve.”
It is wonderful to see so many students embody the mission of PMA and give selflessly of themselves as they learn the importance of leadership and service.
PMA Broke Ground:
Construction Begins Transforming
the Main School Entrance
Tuesday, June 27, PMA broke ground to begin the process of transforming the front of the school into an atrium style entrance, improving the overall layout, functionality and accessibility.
PMA is located on the historic grounds of millionaire Edward F. Searles, best known locally for his stone-walls located throughout Methuen, MA, Salem, NH and Windham, NH.
The main entrance of PMA was Mr. Searles former carriage house built in the late the late 1800’s. PMA opened its doors to the first students in 1958 and time has come to commit to a complete renovation and yet still respect the historic structure where the school was established.
Former parent, Mr. Angelo Petrozzelli, owner of Design Partnership Architects, Inc, of Haverhill, MA has been working with PMA for the past two years, developing plans to help PMA create a vision and now will turn this vision into a reality with the help of CBC Construction. The goal is for the construction to take place during the summer and be complete early fall.
This is a very exciting time, said Rose Maria DiFiore Redman, ’85, Head of school, I have been working at PMA for 28 years, as a teacher, Assistant Principal. Principal and now Head of School. During my time here, I have witnessed many changes, including the building of the Dupre Center in 2002, becoming a co-ed institution in 2011, creating a dorm in 2012 housing international students from 11 different countries, and now this. Change is very exciting and I cannot think of anyone who embraces the challenge and exhilaration of change as much as PMA.
The cost for renovations is projected to be $750,000. PMA launched their Discover the Potential Capital Campaign, with the goal of raising $1 million at their annual Legacy Gala and Auction Evening on March 31, to fund this project and increase endowments for future student scholarships.
The 2017-2020 Capital Campaign needs to raise $1 Million for the renovation and build our endowment.
Will you be a part of PMA’s future?
A gift of any amount is appreciated. Please consider your gift today to be part of PMA’s continued legacy. We count on you to continue to allow students to discover themselves at PMA.
Make a gift securely online with a PayPal account or credit card below
or mail your donation to: PMA/Development Office /209 Lawrence Street, Methuen, MA 01844
BRICKS – You can purchase an 8 x 8 brick for $1,000 or a 8 x 4 brick for $500 to cement your legacy into the new PMA Walkway.
For more information please contact the Development Office at 978-682-9391 x 115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Pocketbook” is a service project for the community started by two PMA Alumni, Yadira Cruz Valdez, ’02 and classmate, Sylvia Martinez, ’02. They collect gently used pocketbooks and fill them with everyday essentials and toiletries. These filled pocketbooks are given to local agencies who distribute them to women in need. PMA was excited about “Project Pocketbook” and did what we could to help. We donated 50 filled pocketbooks and donated another 30 to this cause.
PMA Coat Drive
On Wednesday, November 9, seven PMA students went to Lazarus House in Lawrence to donate needed clothing. Over the month of October, as part of its Works of Mercy initiative, PMA emphasized the Corporal Work of Mercy, Clothe the Naked and collected gently used coats to be donated for those in need. The group went after school and organized the coats and placed them on hangers. It was a wonderful hands on experience of charity for the students and the first of many more opportunities sponsored by the Panther P.A.W.S. (Promoting an Affirming and Welcoming Society) club which was inspired from PMA’s previous club, Rachel’s Challenge.
Shining Star: Nathalie Garcia, ’19
The 2016 Cross Country Team at the Feast of the Three Saints Road Race
PMA Students and Staff Honored
The Rotary Club of Methuen honored outstanding students and teachers at their 6th Annual Celebration of Achievement, on Tuesday, April 12 Long time Spanish teacher, Mrs. Giannantonio was named Methuen Rotary’s PMA Teacher of the Year. Robert Pauley,’16, received a Rotary College Scholarship and Angela Walukevich, ’17 was chosen PMA Student of the Year. They are pictured at the ceremony with PMA Head of School, Mrs. Rose Maria Redman and Guidance Counselor, Judy Winters.
Mrs. Jane Danahy Foss, 97, William A. MacNeil Award Winner
Marie Rivier Award Winners
Zeal: This student strives to live what PMA is all about, learning, excellence, service, and pride in our school.
Joshua Dionne, ’16:
Kiwanis Club Scholarship Recipient
National Honor Society Induction
On Thursday, October 29, PMA conducted the annual Honor Society Induction Ceremony. Thirty students were inducted into the school’s various honor societies: National Honor Society, Societe Honoraire de Francais (French Honor Society), Tri-M (Modern Music Masters), and for the first time this year, Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (Spanish Honor Society). The induction was led by the NHS officers, and concluded with a musical performance by Tri-M. We are very proud of all the students who were inducted, as well as the current members of these Honor Societies.
Overcoming the pain
Henriquez adjusts to sport, now one of CAC’s elite
On Cross Country, Dave Dyer
Posted: Monday, October 12, 2015 1:00 am
The adjustment period is well behind Shakira Henriquez.
Last year as a freshman at Presentation of Mary, Henriquez decided to go out for cross country without really knowing what to expect. She just knew that it might work out for her.
“I’ve always been busy with sports and I wasn’t interested in soccer or volleyball,” said Henriquez, a resident of Lawrence. “I used to run track in middle school so I thought I’d give it (cross country) a try.”
Henriquez quickly found out that there is a big difference between track and cross country.
“The distance was a big adjustment,” said Henriquez. “I was getting pain all over my body and I wondered if it was a good idea. … But, by the end of the year, I started to like it.”
As the pain subsided, Henriquez also started to improve and, by the end of the season, had worked herself up to the Panthers’ No. 3 runner.
Not satisfied, Henriquez decided to come to tryouts this year better prepared, so she ran six days a week during the summer. The results have been dramatic.
From the start, Henriquez established herself as PMA’s No. 1 runner and she has finished first in five dual meets with times well over a minute faster than last year. She is a whopping two minutes faster on her home course.
She had a breakout race the week before last, establishing herself as one of the top runners in the Commonwealth Conference, when she bested the field at Greater Lawrence, beating Reggies’ standouts Nilsa Sosa and Suheiry Pereyra, both of whom had placed first in dual meets.
“I was nervous because I heard they were really good,” said Henriquez. “I was thinking ‘can I do this?’ Beating them gave me a big boost.”
If the summer running helped, Henriquez also continues to get a boost with memories from last year’s captain, Maria Splaine.
“She had a great story, how she overcame cancer and she said I looked like a really good runner,” said Henriquez. “She’s inspired me a lot to run my best.”
Also a varsity basketball and softball player, who lettered in both sports as a freshman, Henriquez had a simple goal for her sophomore season.
“My top goal was to be known at PMA and to get known in the Eagle-Tribune,” she said.
Consider it done.
Eric Tang, ’16: A National Merit Scholar
Eric Tang, ’16, has been named a Commended Student in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. A letter of Commendation from PMA and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the program, will be presented by Rose Maria Redman, PMA Head of School, to Eric.
About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2016 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2016 competition by taking the 2014 SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).
“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success, “commented a spokesperson for NMSC. ”These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”
Congratulations, Eric. We are proud of your achievement!