Students from the Gesu School in Philadelphia enjoyed a fun-filled day of activities on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur’s Villanova campus. Entering its fifth decade, the annual picnic pairs more than 150 middle school and high school students of Notre Dame with kindergarten through third grade students of Gesu to enjoy sporting activities, arts and craft projects, games, face painting and a moon bounce.

This year’s theme, “Gesu Goes to Oz,” transformed the school into the magical world of Oz with students dressed in themed costumes. The Notre Dame Academy’s students, who plan, produce and staff the day, chose the Oz theme to align with the school’s upcoming student musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” to be held Friday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Oct. 26.

Parents, faculty and friends of Notre Dame donated healthy food selections for the children to enjoy.

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In other Notre Dame Academy news, Dr. Judith A. Dwyer became the fourth president and chief executive officer of the Academy of Notre Dame in a ceremony Oct. 3 on the campus. Members of the Board of Trustees, Sisters of Notre Dame who serve the academy, community leaders and guests, parents, faculty, staff and students attended the ceremony.

The inaugural activities featured remarks from Sister of Notre Dame Nancy Bonshock and Mary Ellen Maggitti, chair of the Board of Trustees, performances by the school’s Women’s Chorale and a keynote address by Augustinian Father Peter M. Donohue, president of Villanova University.

“There is excitement in the air today as our community inaugurates Dr. Dwyer,” said Maggitti. “Her substantial prior experience and superior qualifications have already generated positive momentum at Notre Dame. We look forward to solidifying the academy’s commitment to excellence in education under her leadership.”

Dwyer began her tenure July 1. Previously she served as chief academic officer at Bisk Education Inc., a leader in online education, and as president of St. Xavier University in Chicago. Prior to that she served as executive vice president and CEO at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), academic dean at St. John’s University (N.Y.), and assistant academic dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University.

Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women in grades 6 through 12.