For Donna Daniels, fulfilling the promise she'd made to her husband to send her boys to CM was a partnership made with President, Peter Folan. Together, they promised to help the twins success and that's what they did.
Donna Daniels stood at a crossroads. A point in her life where her husband had recently passed away and where her two young boys, Alex and Richard Kouyoumjian ’21 were moving from elementary school to middle and needed a new home. Her husband’s wish was that her boys attend Catholic Memorial, despite having a guaranteed full scholarship from BC High.
“I was looking for a partner because I knew the direction in which I wanted the boys to go. I just wanted a school to support my vision. And that’s what happened.”
Her boys were adamant that they wanted to fulfill their father’s wish, but looking a gift horse in the mouth was hard to do. With Daniels’ law practice located in West Roxbury, the thought of traveling to Dorchester and BC High every day seemed like an impossible task. “So, I said to the boys, ‘Okay, I don’t know how, but we’ll make CM work.’”
At CM, Daniels and the boys received the support they were looking for in a school whose smaller size would provide more of a home feel and with a tighter-knit community. “Ritchie was so heartbroken over his father’s death he could barely make it to class. Every morning, Mary Concannon met us in the parking lot. She would walk him to where he needed to be and hand the teacher a note that allowed him to leave at any moment and come to her office. He carried that note around for a long time. A year later, I found it in the pockets of his pants all crumpled and washed out. I knew then that Ritchie had found a level of happiness.”
If it was Mrs. Concannon who stepped-up in the Middle School, the “bookend,” as Daniels likes to put it, happened a year ago when she suffered a serious illness which resulted in her being bed-ridden for months. It was crunch time for the boys’ college applications. “Jack O’Keefe understood the seriousness of what I was going through,” says Daniels, “and took the situation and just ran with it. For months, I would hear from my bedroom the boys talking to each other about what Mr. O’Keefe needed from each of them. He’d see one in the school hallway and say, ‘Get your brother to do this or to do that’ I knew then that he was running the show.”
When their acceptances finally came, the boy’s pride and sense of accomplishment spilled over. Daniels recalls sitting in a chair in her bedroom, “Alex came in with his laptop and said, ‘Don’t cry,’ and then showed me the letter from Northeastern and I cried. A few weeks later, Ritchie came into the kitchen in tears with his acceptance from BU. It’s incredible how it all came together,” she recalls.
At the 2021 graduation, Daniels pondered her family’s journey and said to the man whom her husband had been so impressed with for his no-nonsense, jacket and tie approach to leading a school, and who had made a promise to her six years ago when the boys entered CM to help them get to college.
“You made promises. We read about your promises. And you said to me one time, ‘I have a drawer full of ideas,’ and you said you knew how to educate boys, and my husband believed you, and I believed you. And my family is living proof of that, because now my boys know right from wrong, they know how to lose, they know how to work hard, and they are ready to go. Thank you.”