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1/16/2013 2:43:00 PM
St. Mary's Academy students delve into Holy Names' history, values
St. Mary's Academy photo
Grace Newsom, Devon Thompson, Sienna Li, Unique Robinson and Maria Fleming volunteered at a Seattle food bank.
St. Mary's Academy photo
Grace Newsom, Devon Thompson, Sienna Li, Unique Robinson and Maria Fleming volunteered at a Seattle food bank.

Founders’ Day is always a special occasion for current and past St. Mary’s Academy students alike, but the annual event took on special meaning for sophomore Devon Thompson after she spent a week in Seattle over the summer at the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Justice and Peace Youth Forum.
“I came back, and I had such a deeper appreciation for this place. Founders’ Day is my favorite day now. I go, Mother Marie-Rose Durocher, it’s her birthday!” said Thompson, who attended the forum along with Grace Newsom '14, Sienna Li '14 and Unique Robinson '14. The four were chaperoned by Maria Fleming ’83, St. Mary’s student service coordinator and religion teacher.
The students went through a competitive selection process to earn spots at the forum, which took place at Holy Names Academy, one of St. Mary’s sister schools. They met students from Holy Names schools across the United States, Canada and Lesotho, learned about St. Mary’s Academy’s founding religious order, prayed together and performed community service.
Participants studied the history of the Sisters, as well as SNJM’s two corporate stands – human trafficking and water. Immigration was another hot topic of the week. These are the most important human rights issues in the Sisters’ view, and it was interesting hearing different perspectives on them from youths from diverse backgrounds and geographic areas, St. Mary’s students said.
Other highlights included sorting and distributing goods at a local food bank and volunteering at Treehouse for Kids’ downtown Seattle storefront, a free shop filled with donated items for foster children.
Li was so inspired by the experience that she started volunteering at Blanchet House in Old Town upon her return.
“I want to make a bigger difference,” she said.
St. Mary’s Academy Principal Patricia Barr served as the forum’s emcee and was able to witness first-hand the impact their week in Seattle had on students.
“Just like a stone thrown into a pond, the activities these young women experienced will have a wide and amazing effect in all of their home communities around the world.  It is wonderful to see the charism of the Sisters of the Holy Names live on in these young women and the fight for social justice continued,” Barr said.

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