On February 22, 2019, Fontbonne Hall Academy lost a beloved member of our family - Anthony DiCarlo. Anthony was coach of our Junior Varsity soccer team and assistant coach of our lacrosse team. His wife Maria is an alumna of Fontbonne, and a member of our Board of Trustees. His daughter Maria is also an alumna, class of 2017, and his daughter Daniella is currently a senior here. In addition to being an integral member of our community, he was also a proud member of New York’s Finest.
He touched so many of our lives, and I wanted to give the students he coached the chance to express their thoughts and feelings, and say their goodbyes to the man who helped them grow into talented young women:
Anthony did everything he could to help everyone! We all love him so much and will miss him every day. Prayers and thoughts are with him and his family. And from her October 27, 2017 article on a JV soccer playoff win: “We also couldn’t have done this without Coach Anthony constantly pushing us … his game plan helped us win the game!”
- Mairead Buckley, member of JV Soccer & Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was our soccer coach. He helped us on and off the field to become better people. He will be missed greatly and always remembered.
- Caroline Gifford, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was my and many girls’ soccer coach for two or more years. He was loved by all and supported all of the girls he coached. He always made the girls play to the best of their abilities and helped them improve. Anthony was loved and will be missed by all.
- Kathleen Schmitt, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony made all of us feel like we had a place on the lacrosse team, and everyone felt like they belonged during practices or games. He cared about everyone, regardless of how athletic or talented we were. We all love and miss you, and your family is in our prayers.
- Juliann Bianco, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2021
I will truly miss you so much, and I know I am not going to be the only person. You were the best coach that I and my other teammates could have ever asked for. You cared for everyone that you met and especially the girls who played soccer and lacrosse for you. You put your heart and soul into every practice and game. You will be missed by countless people who will take your advice and skills wherever they go. The passion and love you had for soccer and sports were unlike any other. And I will remember that forever. Thank you for all of the memories and good times, I will forever remember them.
- Grace Woods, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was one of my favorite coaches. He helped me build up my confidence when playing soccer. Anthony and I would make fun of each other and say mean things all in good spirit! I will not have that kind of relationship with any other coach. I will never forget Anthony and always remember him as my favorite coach.
- Alia Mansour, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2021
My thoughts are with the Dicarlo family. He will be missed.
- Marissa Amendolia, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2020
He was a funny and great person and he will be missed.
- Juliana Oliva, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2022
Anthony was one of the more caring and passionate coaches I have ever had. During practices, he would always encourage each and every player to try as hard as they can no matter what and to never give up. We will miss you so much during the next soccer season but we know that you will be watching over every game.
- Emma Keane, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was our soccer coach. He always made soccer enjoyable and fun. He helped us improve and supported us, so we could play to the best of our abilities and be the best versions of ourselves. We all loved him and he will be missed.
- Kaitlyn Potter, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was a great person. He had a great personality, and was so funny and kind. He will be missed as a coach.
- Paige O’Neill, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2022
Anthony was the reason I continued to play soccer when I wanted to quit. He encouraged me to keep playing.
- Cheyenne Seobarrat, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2021
Thank you for all of your help, kind words and enthusiasm. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself and not overthink. Thank you for everything you've done for me and many others. Keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers.
- Keelin Hammill, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2019
Mr. DiCarlo was a very dedicated man who inspired everyone to work hard and be the best version of themselves they could be as athletes and as individuals. He will be missed by so many.
- Kaylie Walsh, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was the best coach we could’ve asked for. His heart and soul was the game, he didn’t care how good or bad you were, he wanted to get everyone interested in the game. He was truly a great man and will live forever in the hearts of his players and every person he came into contact with. I know he will be on the field and at the games for many years to come with us girls. Anthony was not only my coach, but a neighbor and a friend. I will truly miss him so much. Thank you so much for always believing in us, for all the laughs and memories, rest in sweetest peace coach.
- Diana Willoughby, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2021
Anthony wasn’t just a coach, he was a friend. He always knew the right way to cheer us up, or push us to become better players. He took so much action in the Fontbonne community, which we are so thankful for. Soccer won’t be the same without him, and we will miss him so much.
- Maeve Murnan, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Coach Anthony was extremely encouraging and he definitely pushed us to a limit that we never knew we were able to reach. He helped us realize we’re much more capable than we believe.
- Liani Kane, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2019
Anthony believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I will forever be grateful for the love I gained for soccer, all because of him. He will be missed by myself and so many.
- Sofia Casale, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2022
Anthony was one of the best coaches I have ever had because he believed in everyone and always pushed everyone to work their best and try their hardest. He will be missed greatly.
- Kaylee Hermance, member of Lacrosse, Class of 2021
Anthony was a great coach, and an amazing human. He will truly be missed by everyone who knew him.
- Colleen Bambury, member of JV Soccer, Class of 2021
Anthony was the best coach. He was so supportive of everyone and made our soccer team feel like a family. he was encouraging of everyone and made sure everyone felt welcome. I am so grateful that I had the honor of calling him my coach.
- Madelyn Billows, member of JV Soccer and Lacrosse, Class of 2021
By Joanne Centeno ‘21
Most of us have all, hopefully, had some education on the meaning of Lent. Other than
knowing it begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday, how many of us
really understand Lent? I researched it a bit and found that the word Lent means “a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.” In this period, we are asked to observe days of fasting and abstinence.
The definition is pretty much what we all probably already knew. So, I decided to go into more detail with what Lent actually means and what is expected of us as practicing Catholics. While we know that Lent lasts 40 days, did you know that it is actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday? Most people I spoke to thought that the duration from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is 40 days because truthfully, how many of us would take the time to count calendar days? The breakdown of the 40 days of Lent is that 46 days total, minus the 6 Sundays in Lent is equal to 40 days. On Sundays, we are not asked to fast or abstain. So it is not counted in our Lenten observance.
Another aspect of Lent that may not be clear to some is the period of time between Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday where we begin what is known as the Triduum. Triduum is a Latin word meaning “three days.” We are in a period of sadness after Jesus is crucified on Good Friday. We are preparing for Easter Sunday when Jesus rises from the dead. In this time, we are asked to (but not required) to come to the Mass and participate in our parish services.
On Holy Thursday, the Mass includes the washing of the feet of usually 12 parishioners. This is to remember how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples the last time he ate with them. On Good Friday, we come to a service where the Gospel is the Passion. The Passion is the story of Jesus being crucified. It is the most solemn day of our Catholic Church. On Holy Saturday, there is no Mass until the Easter Vigil at night.
Throughout Lent, many of us give up things we like or try to be kinder to people. On Fridays during Lent, we don’t eat meat. It is called abstinence. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we are asked to fast. This means we only eat one basic meal. We are not to eat food throughout the day other than that one meal.
Another common mistake is that some believe that we are required to come to Mass on Ash Wednesday. It is not a holy day of obligation. We are not required to receive ashes on our foreheads either. It is optional, but encouraged.
By Gabriela Cafaro ‘22
Swim Coach Joe Verponi, a beloved member of the Fontbonne family, died on January 10, 2019, after struggling with health issues for some time. He was 91 years old.
Joe started to help out the swim team 50 years ago when his daughters attended the school. He was known to pile a team of 12 girls in his car and drive down to the YMCA on 9th Street for pool practice.
He continued to coach and eventually became head coach for many years. He enjoyed teaching and improving the swimmers’ strokes - the hardest one to master, the butterfly, was his favorite.
He taught hundreds - maybe thousands of swimmers - to improve their strokes while being part of FHA’s swim team. Even as he aged and began to use a cane, Joe looked forward to coming back to the pool and getting team results on his iPad that his grandchildren set up for him.
Kathi Kocur, the current swim coach says, “When I became head coach, Joe would always listen as I talked about our lineups and give suggestions to get the best out of the team.” She often spoke to him and sent him rosters with the swimmers’ times, and they talked about how the Freshwomen would succeed.
He was a universally admired swim coach at Fontbonne and has been recognized over the years. He was Coach of the Year twice - given the honor by his fellow swim coaches - and has been inducted into the Brooklyn-Queens Catholic Girls High School athletic association's Hall of Fame.
He was a father to four daughters who attended Fontbonne Hall Academy and leaves behind many great and great-grandchildren. He was a coach, a mentor, and a friend to many people. He will be sorely missed.
We, as members of the Fontbonne family, are saddened to hear about this great loss to our school. His spirit will live on in every stroke of our Bonnie swimmers.
On Jan. 10, 2019, our Fontbonne family lost a beloved member - coach Joe Verponi of our swim team. Our next issue will include an obituary, but we wanted to reach out to members of our swim team to share some of their thoughts and memories of coach Joe in this month’s issue. Here is what they had to say:
After a meet, win or lose, Joe would tell us that we did well, but we will work harder at our next practice to be better for the following week. Although in his last two years he couldn't come to every event, we knew he was there, and he always will be. The swim team honors Joe by asking him (and his cane) to pray for us before we swim, and we know that even though he isn't with us, he is wishing us luck and cheering us on. I will miss Joe similar to how someone would miss a grandparent they lose, because that's the way he seemed to all of us, and I thank him for all the years he put into Fontbonne and the swim team. - Daniella DiCarlo
Being coached by Joe has made me not only a better swimmer but a better person. Coach Joe’s positivity and love for swimming made me excited for practices and meets. We love and miss you, Joe! - Elizabeth Carmody
Joe Verponi was the swim coach for Fontbonne Hall Academy for 50 years. He put his heart and soul into the swim team. When the team first started, there were very few girls, but that didn't stop Joe. Joe will always be remembered throughout the generations of Fontbonne's swim team. We love you, Joe! - Adriana Borrometi
Coach Joe was one of the most encouraging coaches I’ve ever had. He always believed in me and pushed me to be better. The season hasn’t been the same without him. I know he’ll be cheering for us at champs. There will never be another like him. Rest in peace, Coach Joe - Gabrielle Monti
By Julia Lepore '20
At Fontbonne Hall Academy, one of its most important and biggest events is Sports Night, which occurs every year. Not only is it important to FHA’s history but it involves the entire community including parents, faculty, and students. As each year comes together to create a production, the competition is on! Everyone is in it to win it, although teamwork and working together is the main focus that stays on students’ minds while they try to make their year stick out the most.
Sports Night isn’t only about making a production to preform, it’s everything that goes along with it. First the year has to start off by picking the theme for their year. Students come up with all kinds of great ideas, so it’s hard to choose one. Because of this, the student body chooses the theme by voting until they reach one they could all agree on. After a theme is chosen, the year has to pick the best fit students that would lead by being the captains, who run in one of several categories. Every job is important and being captain is a big responsibility. The three main categories are dance, skit, and tumbling. But no category is more important than the other. Each captain has to be on task while working to set up the event, making sure the details and choreography match the theme. There are also costume, mural (a picture that represents the year and is drawn by some of its art students), and you can run for captain of the different sports there are to play when each year competes. The sports add to your overall score so wherever you range depending on your wins and losses will be accounted for when you are getting your final score.
Getting everyone together for practices is one of the challenges the girls face during Sports Night season. During each practice, the girls and captains work together to perfect the overall performance for the audience and judges to enjoy. Although there is conflict along the way, the year always pulls through with a great performance.
The day of Sports Night is full of excitement, nerves, and laughs. Everyone puts together last minute touches to finalize their performance and makes sure everyone is set in costume and that everyone knows what they are doing in the role they have to play in the show. Once all the hard stuff is over, it’s a day of fun where the FHA community comes together to represent the students and the school itself. Sports Night is just one of Fontbonne many great events that take place during the year!
By Alessandra Antonacci '20
As we approach the end of the first month of 2019, we have all probably heard the phrase “new year, new me” a million times. Many people choose to set goals at the beginning of the year, dubbed “New Year’s Resolutions,” in order to try to better themselves and aim for a fresh start in the new year. On January 8th of 2019, a Folio Poll was sent out asking all Fontbonne Students about their New Year’s Resolutions. This poll was used to determine what the student body aims to improve on the most in 2019, as well as to figure out once and for all if new year’s resolutions really do live up to our expectations.
There were approximately 101 responses from students for this poll within one week. The first question in the poll was whether or not students have ever completed a New Year’s Resolution. An overwhelming 63.4% of participants stated that they had never fully completed the goal they set at the beginning of the new year. However, when students were asked in the next question if they chose to make resolutions for the year of 2019, 86.1% of students stated that they had set new goals for the year.
The last question in the poll asked the participants to expand on the previous question and state their resolutions for the year of 2019. This question consisted of a list of pre-written responses, as well as a fill-in box for those who had more unique goals that they wanted to share. Not surprisingly, the most popular resolution of the year is to form healthier habits, which was chosen by 80.2% of participants. The second most popular response (which will come as a pleasant gift to all teachers) is to study harder, which was chosen by 54.7% of participants. The two runners up for the most popular resolution were to step out of comfort zones, coming in at 39.5%, and to become a kinder person, which came in at 31.4%. Around 15% of students also chose to set the goal of becoming a more charitable person in the new year and strengthening their faith.
The fill-in resolution section was filled with both genuine and humorous responses for all of those with goals for 2019 that were not mentioned in the pre-written resolution section. Some of the more heartfelt responses included hopes for a healthy family, for a great college, a great future, and for having more faith in oneself. Others wanted to form healthier changes in their day to day lives, such as going to bed earlier and reading more. The most humorous responses, though, were those who chose less serious resolutions for the new year, such as to learn to juggle and, submitted in all caps, to get abs.
However you choose to better yourself this year, I hope that you all reach your goals and start off 2019 on the right foot!
By Alessandra Antonacci '20
On Thursday, December 14th, a poll was sent out to determine once and for all what Fontbonne’s favorite Christmas movies and songs are. The poll ended the following morning with 228 responses from both students and faculty members.
28.9% of participants stated that Home Alone is their favorite Christmas movie, closely followed by Elf at 26.3%. The Grinch and The Polar Express were both runners-up at 18% and 11% respectively. There were quite a few fill-in answers for this question, some being The Year Without Santa Claus, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and, sparking an interesting debate, Die Hard.
The next question asked participants to state their favorite Christmas song. With almost half of the votes, All I Want For Christmas is You came in first place at an overwhelming 45.8%. The runner-up for this question was Last Christmas, coming in at 22.2%. Understandably, this was the question with the most fill-in answers, and some honorable mentions include Sarajevo (Trans Siberian Orchestra) and Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer, which received the most fill-in votes. Shockingly, Jingle Bell Rock only received .04% of votes.
The last question asked participants to state their favorite religious Christmas song. 34.8% of participants stated that Silent Night is their favorite, followed closely by Joy to the World and Mary, Did You Know at 28% and 21% respectively.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote on the poll and establish, once and for all, Fontbonne’s Christmas favorites. Have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!
By Jonnel Lewis '19
On Monday, November 12th, 2018 around 10:30-11pm, a text message was shared with multiple students suggesting that Fontbonne was a threat for a potential violent attack. Havoc ran throughout social media as students were fearful to return to school the next day. Students alerted parents who then contacted the administration. Once administration was informed, they contacted the 68th Precinct as well as the students involved in the incident.
According to students, especially Freshwomen, they were contacted by an anonymous person who said, “They’re coming to the school to shoot it up.” While students tried to uncover the truth of the threat, the story began to change. It was as if they were playing a game of telephone - the truth began to get twisted up so much it spiraled out of control.
When the police finally got a hold of the situation, they said that there was no real threat to the school. The administration sent out an email stating, “The messages that were sent to the police also included the original post, which never stated that the school, or anyone at the school, would be subject to an attack.” They also assured parents and students that it would be safe to return to school the following day.
The administration had police patrol at school the following day, November 13th. However, over one hundred and fifty students had not returned to school as they were still fearful from the potential threat. As many shootings, especially school shootings, have taken place in 2018, it is understandable that students and parents did not want to risk their lives, even if the threat was not real.
As a Fontbonne Hall Academy community, it is important that when you hear or see something that can negatively affect you and others, especially if it’s a threat of violence or anything unsafe, you must say something. And we appreciate those students who indeed said something. We urge that students take precaution in what they share online because the wrong post can cause turmoil within and outside our family.
For further information on this subject be sure to tune in to BNN for the full scoop on this terrible scare.
By Alessandra Antonacci '20
At the beginning of this school year, the Fontbonne administration decided to make a change in the term that we use to refer to first-year high school students. As many students have noticed by now, the term “Freshmen” has been replaced with “Freshwomen” in order to promote Fontbonne’s mission of empowering women.
While there have been mixed reactions to this change, many of the comments from the student body have been either indifferent or negative. In order to get more insight on this topic, I interviewed Mrs. Spicijaric to see why this change was made in the first place.
I was surprised to learn that the usage of this term did not start at Fontbonne. According to Mrs. Spicijaric, she first discovered the term “Freshwomen” at The Mary Louis Academy. Mrs. S had thought about instituting the change for a long time, but she chose this year to do so because the administration is heavily focused on staying true to Fontbonne’s mission.
Mrs. Spicijaric says that the reason for this change is to promote equality, to show that we are proud of women and proud to be women. “It is strange to refer to women as men,” says Mrs. Spicijaric, “Being in an all-girls establishment, the student body should be addressed correctly.” In today’s society, we are starting to use more gender inclusive terms, such as police officer instead of policeman, and firefighter instead of fireman. Why not advance this into our own school environment?
I asked Mrs. Spicijaric why she thought that the initial reaction to the change was so negative, and her response was, “In time, it will become part of the vernacular eventually.” In other words, it sounds strange now, but it will start to become more normal as time goes on. “Any change in a school is initially viewed as weird or strange,” Mrs. Spicijaric added.
While the administration will use “Freshwomen” in order to identify us as women and confirm our gender, the students can choose to use either term. However, the administration hopes that the students will eventually see this as a positive change instead of a “change for change’s sake.” Mrs. Spicijaric hopes that, in time, it will teach the students that the term women is just as fine to use as men.
By Stephanie Patella '20
Adjusting to the new environment of high school is challenging, but what if you had to go through it twice?
On January 9th, 2018, the students and faculty of Saint John Villa Academy were left in utter shock by the news that the school would be closing in June 2018. Just like that, my fellow Villa Bears and I had felt like our world had been turned upside down.
Like most high school students, I spent my freshman year adjusting to new life at Villa. By the time I had reached my sophomore year, I felt that I had finally hit my stride. I had developed my group of friends, established myself in certain extracurricular activities, including softball and theater, and overall felt like Villa was my second home. Who knew that in an instant, it could all be taken away?
Deciding on which school I would have to attend my junior year completely filled me with sadness and doubt. Would I ever be able to find a new home? Would any school make me feel as warm and happy as Villa?
My Villa classmates and I attended open house after open house. We visited all girls and co-ed schools, both public and Catholic, in Staten Island. Some girls knew exactly where they wanted to go because their friends or siblings may have attended that school. For me, however, I did not quite feel that same spark that I felt during the Villa open house in freshman year.
My cousin had told me about a school that was located right over the Verrazano Bridge called Fontbonne Hall Academy. I was a little nervous about the idea of traveling over the bridge to get to school every day, but I felt that there was no harm in taking a look. My mother, father, and I attended the open house among the other Villa students and parents eager to learn about what the school had to offer. I noticed faculty members walking around with big smiles and among them was Ms. Spicijaric. She stood at the podium in the gymnasium looking out into this crowd of lost hope and sorrow. She began by sending her condolences and assuring us not to be worried about this difficult process. Before she spoke about enrollment and classes in FHA, she took the time during her presentation to show the similarities in the mission statements of both Villa and Fontbonne. In that moment, I regained that long-awaited sense of warmth and happiness. After Ms. Spicijaric had finished her speech, I leaned over to my parents and whispered, “This is a Brooklyn version of Villa and I really want to be a Bonnie.”
Another villa transferee, Alessandra Antonacci, had a similar takeaway from the open house. “When I visited the school itself it had a prominent family environment, which was something I didn’t find when I went to other open houses.”
But how would I be able to adjust to my new surroundings when I walk in on my first day? Will this be like freshmen year all over again?
I was pleased to discover that it was not. I was not going backward, but rather turning the page to a new and exciting chapter in my life.
On the first day of school, I realized that there were roughly twenty former Villa girls that were in attendance at FHA. This provided a sense of relief and comfort just knowing that I would see some familiar faces in the hallways.
Mrs. Hein, director of admissions, admits that she and Ms. S were fortunate enough to intrigue a significant amount of Villa girls to attend FHA by “reach[ing] out to Sr. Antonia, principal at Villa, to let her know that we would support Villa students and welcome them to FHA with open arms” and “then attend[ing] the HS Fair Villa held at [the] school.” There, they were able to provide students and parents with desired knowledge to learn about FHA. Similar to Ms. S’s comparison of the mission statements of the schools, Mrs. Hein explains that FHA is “similar enough that Villa students would flourish [here] which is why we were so committed to helping them out in their situation last year.”
Walking around in a completely different atmosphere on that first day made all of us a little nervous. Eventually, we were able to adjust with help from our kind classmates and faculty. Former Villa student, Gabriella Salerno, gave her opinion on the transition: “I admit I was very stressed at first, but now I’m becoming more familiar with the school.” Alessandra Antonacci, a junior Villa transfer student, adds “Everyone was even more welcoming than I had ever hoped for.”
While we now walk around as Bonnies, Ms. S and the school administration was kind enough to let us still carry around a little piece of Villa. During the very first assembly of the year, Ms. S presented each of the Villa transferees with a special pin that combined the logos of the two schools, which we can wear as part of our uniform until our graduation. As Mrs. Hein explains, “Ms. S created this pin because she really wanted the Villa students to know that FHA was welcoming them with open arms, but also realizes and respects the situation they are in and the school they are coming from which is where the embracing symbol and coordination of both schools’ colors stemmed from.” It has been the little acts of kindness like this, by faculty as well as existing students, that have given us Villa girls the comfort to now call ourselves Bonnies.
Of course, a significant transition like this will have its share of bumps in the road. For those Villa transferees that are still finding it hard to adjust, Mrs. Hein encourages patience and persistence; “Don’t give up! Stay positive and put yourself out there...It is difficult to start over especially when you were not anticipating having to do so, but we are a family and we will do all that we can to help you adjust. My door is always open!” Indeed, as we Villa girls now walk through the doors of FHA on a daily basis, we take comfort in knowing that this is now our home and perhaps everything happens for a reason.