Tricia Davern, a senior at Brookewood School in Kensington, said it will be bittersweet to say goodbye to the school she’s attended for more than a decade. She said she’s excited to begin a new chapter in her life at the University of Dallas, but will be forever grateful for the lessons learned, her teachers and her school community, all of which she credits for guiding, strengthening and nurturing her Catholic faith since the day she began at the all-girls’ Catholic school.

“Brookewood has definitely shaped me as a person. The example of the teachers here especially, the way they live their faith. They showed me it’s not separate from my life. It is my life,” she said.

Davern is among several seniors who have attended Brookewood, a first through 12th grade school, since its doors opened in 2006 and they entered together as the pioneer second grade class.

As Davern prepares for her May 27 graduation, she looks back on her 11 years at Brookewood, whose school motto is “Nolite Timere” (“Be Not Afraid”) from an oft-repeated quote of St. Pope John Paul II.

Drawing inspiration from those words, Davern, 18, lives out her Catholic faith by serving the Church and her community. She is a lector at her parish, St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Silver Spring; a camp counselor at a St. Joseph’s House-run summer camp for children and teenagers with developmental and intellectual challenges, and a volunteer at Café St. Joe, a ministry that supports St. Joseph House through a monthly sale of coffee and baked goods at St. Andrew’s Parish.

One of her most memorable and meaningful volunteer experiences, Davern said, was a mission trip with the communities of Brookewood and The Avalon School, Gaithersburg, Brookewood’s brother school, to Jamaica last summer to serve for a week at a Jacob’s Ladder, a Mustard Seed Community home for young adults with developmental and physical disabilities. 

Whether it was building a new sidewalk for the residence, playing soccer with the residents or simply talking to or holding the hand of a severely handicapped person, Davern said she learned the immeasurable gift of giving of herself to those in need.

“It was incredible. It definitely pushed me past my comfort zone. There were just awesome people there,” she said. “It taught me how to serve others more. Some days, if I didn’t feel like I gave enough, it was a lesson to keep going and never give up. ”

At Brookewood, Davern said she enjoyed all of her subjects, as well as playing three sports – field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. Her life’s passion though, she said, is art and credits Brookewood’s art teacher Judy Kearns with instilling in her a great love of classical artwork by teaching from the great masters. “I love the idea of moving people through art,” she said. At the University of Dallas, Davern said she plans to major in history and minor in art.

Richard McPherson, headmaster of Brookewood, said Davern is a model Brookewood student, teammate and classmate who possesses a generous and cheerful spirit. “Patricia takes her faith seriously. She is interested in everything academically especially art, philosophy, and literature. She started on three varsity sports teams and was an unselfish teammate,” he said. “She is a good friend to all her classmates and a mentor to the younger students. You can't exaggerate her positive influence on her class and on Brookewood.”

She said she will miss the tight-knit school communities of Brookewood and The Avalon School, as both schools are the center of her family’s life. Her dad, Kevin, is the headmaster of Avalon; her mom, Jennifer, is Brookewood’s athletic director and physical education teacher; her three older siblings graduated from both schools; her younger sister is a Brookewood seventh grader; and her younger brother is in the ninth grade at Avalon.

Reflecting on her years at Brookewood, Davern said there are many blessings – the friendships, her faith-filled teachers – but the greatest one, she said, was the opportunity to attend daily Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, which, she describes as “a gift here that is so incredible.” Those blessings, she said, have not only prepared her well for the next step in her academic life, but to also spend her college years discerning a possible vocation to religious life. “There’s a good chance. I’m open to whatever God calls me to,” she said. “I’ll keep praying about it.”