Oakland Catholic: Educating Young Women to be Responsible and Respected Global Leaders

Aug14 NC web banner-1The 2014 graduating class at Oakland Catholic was accepted to over 160 different post-secondary schools of higher learning and received well over $10.8 million in scholarships. “That is a minimal figure”, explains newly appointed president, Mrs. Mary Claire Kasunic, “our students are so used to receiving awards, they don’t always tell us all the offers they receive.”

On July 1st, Mrs. Mary Claire Kasunic assumed the role of President of Oakland Catholic High School, this region’s only all-girls Catholic high school. Kasunic brings impressive credentials and a long history with the school to her position. Since 1992, she has served as both a French and Spanish teacher, Chair of the Foreign Languages Department, Director of the Joan of Arc Society of Scholars which is achieved with additional academic work outside the classroom, Director of Admissions for several years, and Interim Principal in 2001-2002. In addition, she has instituted and led numerous student activities, such as language-centered trips to Europe. A veteran teacher and parent of three Oakland Catholic graduates and one Central Catholic graduate, Mrs. Kasunic has a clear understanding of Oakland Catholic’s history and its strategic direction for the future.

Recently, Oakland Catholic has initiated “Mission Forward”, a program whose focus it is to lead the way in technology in the classroom. To this end, Oakland Catholic has teamed-up with Apple Corporation to provide MacBook® Air Laptops for each student and faculty member. Specialists from Apple locations across the country have come to Oakland Catholic to configure servers, teach faculty and student instructors, and prepare the MacBooks for the rigorous academic programs available at Oakland Catholic from their online resources for learning Mandarin Chinese to the complex bio-informatics program and software applications provided with the support of Carnegie Mellon University.

Kasunic said recently, “Mission Forward is Oakland Catholic’s latest endeavor, and in line with our commitment to the school’s mission of educating young women to be ‘responsible and respected global leaders’.” She continued, “Mission Forward, although a 1:1 laptop initiative, is much more than the distribution of devices to students.” Math Instructor and Project Leader of Mission Forward, Karisa Haslett, moreover added “(Mission Forward) is a transformation of the classroom experience.” Instrumental in building the program, Kasunic is excited about the plan because “Our teachers are receiving incredible training and support from the Apple team. Our Board of Directors is 100% committed to its success. The excitement of the students when we made the announcement was palpable.  As most projects we undertake, this vision is shared by the entire school community, and the efforts to make the vision a reality is the result of school-wide collaboration.”

Oakland Catholic foresees becoming an Apple Distinguished School in the future, expanding its ability to provide its students with a cutting edge curriculum that already includes their close relationships with CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.  Oakland Catholic’s proximity to the two campuses have allowed their students access to the bioinformatics, chemistry, and physics labs for experiments and research.

For example, in cooperation with a program developed through Carnegie Mellon University on bioinformatics, the students have access to a plethora of International databases to study the DNA and genetic sequencing of any organism. In one experiment, the young women of Oakland Catholic were able to remove the genetic sequence of a firefly that is responsible for making it glow and splice it to the genetic code of bacteria to make it glow.

In addition to its strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, Oakland Catholic maintains an equally strong emphasis on the humanities, the arts, after school activities and sports, and spiritual growth. For instance, many of the students participate in a variety of Campus Ministry activities.  Students have traveled on mission trips around the world to assist the poor in places such as Guatemala and Jamaica, as well as, on academic trips to France, Italy, Spain and other European destinations. Oakland Catholic has a very diverse student population with students from local parishes, International students and many non-Catholic students – all eager to experience the opportunities that Oakland Catholic offers to young women who value education and want to contribute to the greater good.

For more information, to schedule a tour, or to register to be a part of this amazing high school, visit http://www.oaklandcatholic.org  /