St. Mary’s Academy elementary teachers know all too well the importance of hands-on activities that engage and inspire their students. They combine activities that require movement, talking, and listening, that activate multiple areas of the brain. Studies have shown that the more parts of the brain that students use, the more likely they are to retain information.
Black hair has been an integral aspect African-American history from African tribal styles to dreadlocks and the afro. An upcoming exhibit at St. Mary’s Academy will investigate the significant role that black hair has had upon culture and the world.
A partnership between the school and Southern University at New Orleans Center for African & African American Studies, the Reclaiming Our Heritage: Traditional West African Coiffure exhibit will be held in the library at St. Mary’s Academy November 7 –December 2018. Curated by SUNO assistant professor Connie Abdul-Salaam, the exhibit will educate students, faculty, and others of the historical aspects of traditional West African coiffure from before the slave trade to the unique modern styles we see today worn on women, men, and children.
“Long before Europeans came to the African continent, a lot of time was spent grooming, maintaining, and styling hair for certain occasions such as weddings and other rituals,” said Abdul-Salaam adding that traditional African coiffures also indicated ethnic group, ranking and marital status. “The West African slave trade to the Americas forced Africans to abandon the skills that once gave them a dignified obligation to adorn and beautify themselves, especially their hair.”
The exhibition will present an array of photos, combs, masks, statues and other artifacts and may be viewed between the hours of 9:00AM-12:00PM and by appointment. For more information, please contact Michelle Ochillo at 504-245-0200 ext. 123.Read More
On Saturday, October 6, St. Mary’s Academy hosted Beautiful by Nature at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. Open to girls ages 12-18, the event featured a planetarium screening of Flight of the Butterflies, mindfulness and mediation and a floral crown workshop. Attendees also had a three-course luncheon, musical performance by recording artist Yahjah and an inspirational message by event sponsor Jesseca Dupart of Kaleidoscope Hair Products.
It’s been two years since Adrianne (Ajax) Jackson opened the doors to Magnolia Yoga Studio on Basin Street. Driven by the desire “to support growth, healing, and empowerment through the art of yoga and community,” she is the first African-American to open a yoga studio in New Orleans.
Now this dynamic young woman is making history once again by offering students at St. Mary’s Academy the opportunity to benefit from this ancient practice. This year, she is leading classes twice a week at the school, thanks to a partnership between the Magnolia Yoga Studio and funding from SMA alumna Jasmin Bindom.
For 50 minutes, twice a week, Ajax puts students through a series of breathing exercises, stretching and flexibility routines, creative visualization, and movements to improve balance and focus. According to Ajax, there are tremendous benefits that students can derive from yoga
“Yoga can help us tremendously take our health and power back,” said Ajax adding that the practice can also reduce, reverse and completely eliminate a wide range of issues including asthma, stress, insomnia, depression and anxiety. ““I learned that yoga not only treats many of those things but it also prevents them as well.”
For senior Daria Ball, the class came at the most opportune time. “I was very excited to learn that the school would be offering yoga as a class and I signed up right away,” said Ball adding that participation in the class has been both advantageous and rewarding. ”As a senior, there is additional stress to do well in my classes and yoga has helped me focus and find balance.”
Likewise freshmen Savana Frazier also extols the benefits of yoga and looks forward to her classes each week. “I feel great and more positive now that I have started practicing yoga,” said Frazier. “The course is helping me to achieve more internal peace.”
Research suggests that school-based yoga cultivates competencies in mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness. Improvements have also been noted in students’ behavior, mental state, health, and performance.
“In a yoga class, one gets this golden opportunity to reflect, reorganize and remember what is really important, who we really are and what we really aspire for ourselves as a collective and as individuals,” said Ajax who is intent on getting yoga to more people. “The ultimate goal is to educate the community on the benefits of yoga and to provide accessibility.”
A partnership between the school and Meditate New Orleans and funded by SMA alumna Jasmin Bindom, the mediation and mindfulness class is one of five new electives offered at St. Mary’s Academy. The 50 minute class meets twice a week and is led by Meditate New Orleans founder and CEO Stephanie Osborne.
“Meditation increases inner peace, focus, creativity, and mental alertness,” said Osborne adding that the practice also confers a host of other benefits. “Meditation also helps people connect with their higher selves by practicing stillness, gratitude, compassion and self-love.”
For 17 year-old SMA senior Bria Sylvester, the class came as a much-needed and welcome surprise. “I tend to get stressed out by a number of things and meditation is helping me to stay calm and focus on one thing at a time,” said Sylvester adding that she also appreciates the instructor’s enthusiasm and kind spirit. “Miss Stephanie is patient, warm and inviting. That’s a personality trait that we have in common.”
Likewise, senior Armani Travis also appreciates the opportunity to take part in the class this semester. “I tend to panic when I have too much on my plate,” said Travis. “I’m learning to calm down, breathe, relax and everything is going to be ok.”
A number of studies have been performed in school settings show improved attention and better grades. Some research has shown benefits for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, school performance, sleep, behavior problems, and eating disorders.
“Investing into young people the gift of silence, self-empowerment and gratitude translates into our future leaders possessing mental clarity, compassion and personal freedom! What a powerful gift!” ~Stephanie Osborne, CEO of Meditate New Orleans
A proud graduate of class of 2005, Davenport completed her studies at Southern University of Baton Rouge where she received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Science, with a specialty in Child Development.
Currently an Enrollment Service Specialist for Baton Rouge Community College, Davenport is also currently in school working on a Masters of Art in Organizational Leadership.
According to Davenport, she knew at a young age that she had a calling on her life. “I was saved at the age of 8 and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the age 15,” said Davenport. “God put the desire in my heart to help heal people both physically and spiritually.”
Highly regarded as a spiritual guide, Davenport also mentors young ladies in the greater Baton Rouge area. She serves on several youth organizational boards, helping to implement new ideas and programmatic functions in the southern region. Additionally, Davenport is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
In 2014, Davenport was diagnosed with a chronic illness, Lupus, and stage 3 Marginal Zone Lymphoma (MZL) cancer. She has since endured years of chemotherapy. The MZL cancer went into remission only for a year before it came back again in February 2016. With all of God’s grace, she fought against stage 3 cancer …. not once but twice!
A fighter in every sense of the word, Davenport lives by the saying “Never look like what you’re going through! In spite of it all, God is yet good and able!”
She is married to Conrad Davenport and they are the proud parents of baby girl, Carsyn Dear Davenport.Read More
St. Mary’s Academy alumna Dr. Lakia Montegut believes in paying it forward when it comes to helping SMA students succeed. To that end the Class of 2005 graduate recently established the Dr. Lakia Montegut Valedictorian Scholarship and the Dr. Lakia Montegut Future Pharmacist Scholarship benefiting graduates of the school. Both gifts valued at $2000 each, were presented during the Academy’s Awards Ceremony.
“I have always believed to whom much is given, much is required,” said Montegut adding that she owes a huge debt of gratitude to her alma mater. “St. Mary’s Academy taught me professionalism, how to articulate my thoughts through public speaking and how to be a strong woman of faith.”
Now a doctor of pharmacy and an entrepreneur, Montegut herself was the recipient of scholarships to both St. Mary’s Academy and Xavier University. “Those scholarships literally changed my life,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if someone didn’t decide to give back.”
For Kelsie Williams, valedictorian of the SMA Class of 2018, the scholarship award was a much needed and welcome surprise. “Receiving this scholarship shows that all my hard work has been recognized,” said Williams who plans to attend Xavier University in the fall majoring in biology/pre-med. “My ultimate goal is to finish college debt-free and this most generous award moves me one step closer to that goal. I am exceedingly grateful to Dr. Montegut for this gift.”
Likewise Cierra Frazier, a graduate of the Class of 2015 is very appreciative for the scholarship. “I feel truly blessed to be held in such high regard to receive such an honor,” said Frazier, a second year pharmacy student at Xavier University of Louisiana. “I can only imagine my future and will work hard so that I too can be of service to others.”
Thirty-eight seniors from St. Mary’s Academy received diplomas from Sister of the Holy Family Clare of Assisi Pierre, president, and Sister Jennie Jones, principal, in ceremonies marking the 133rd graduation of St. Mary’s Academy on May 17 at Austin Gymnasium. Father Sidney O Speaks, SSJ, parochial vicar of St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Baccalaureate Mass that preceded the graduation ceremonies. Concelebrant of the Mass was Father H. Daniel Green, parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity Parish and director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries.
St. Mary’s Academy alumna Dr. Lakiesha Claude Williams, associate professor of Biomedical Engineering at Mississippi Valley State University served as the commencement speaker.
The members of the Class of 2018 have been accepted to more than 60 colleges and universities around the country.
Kelsie Williams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Max Williams of New Orleans, was valedictorian. Throughout her years at St. Mary’s Academy she has maintained both President’s Honor Roll and Renaissance Star status. Williams, a TOPS Scholar, earned the highest-average awards in religion, mathematics, science, English, French, social studies, computer and physical education. She was a member of several extracurricular activities, including the National Honor Society, SMA Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, flag team and Key Club. She plans to attend either Xavier University or LSU majoring in biology/pre-med.
The salutatorian was Jayla Williams, daughter of Jelinda Gibson-Allen and step daughter of Kwan Allen of New Orleans. Williams, a TOPS scholar, consistently maintained Principal’s Honor Roll and Renaissance Star status throughout her years at SMA. She was an active member of both the National and SMA Honor Societies. Additionally, Williams was a member of the Cougarette Dance Team and SMA Ambassadors. She will attend the University of Southern Mississippi majoring in Kinesiotherapy.
Earning the distinction of honor students were Chali Pickens, Alaina Doss, Kia Batiste, Dachel Roberts, Kylara McGee, Caleigh Gautier, Pilar Hardwell, Haili Duncan, Alayna Williams, Knia Williams, Gioia Russell, and Kelsey Dumas.
Other graduates were Kaya Bastian, T’Yan Bernard, Deja Crayton, Jardyn Daniel, Timia Deal, Edwenia Foster, Herschell Francis, Monteranique Ginn, Kianta’ Hughes, Delicia Johnson, Kiara Jones, Kiera Jones, Ronjonique Joseph, Beautiful Lawson, Trinity McCain, Cyntrell McDonald, Malon McGee, Myra Mitchell, La’Tavia Nelson, Sierra St. Martin, Taylah’ Vining, Ryiana Wade, Kelsie Watson and Paiton Young.
St. Marya��s Academy will host its annual Spring Family Fair Friday March 23, through Sunday, March 25. The event will feature midway rides, games, concessions, food and entertainment throughout the three-day event. Fair hours are Friday: 10:00 AM-2:00PM and 4:00PM-8:00PM; Saturday: 11:00AM-3:00PM and 4:00PM-8:00PM; and Sunday: 1:00PM-6:00PM. The entrance fee is $5.00 with no admittance to the fairgrounds after dark. Armbands good for one session may be purchased onsite for $20.Read More
Some of the school’s brightest luminaries were honored during the annual Red Carpet Awards. Held on Tuesday, March 21 in Austin Gymnasium, the awards ceremony featured the entrance of SMA’s Renaissance Stars via a red carpet and the presentation of numerous trophies and gift cards.
Students at St. Marya��s Academy will see Marvela��s first predominately black superhero film thanks to the generosity of actor, singer and songwriter Jussie Smollett. The star of the American drama series Empire offered to provide a free screening of the movie for 425 SMA students including bus transportation.
The screening of the movie featuring actors Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Danai Gurira will take place on Friday, March 16th at AMC Elmwood Theaters.
“The generosity that Mr. Smollett has shown speaks volumes about who he is as a person,” said St. Mary’s Academy president Sr. Clare of Assisi Pierre. “We are exceedingly grateful for his kindness and his name will be forever etched in the annuals of our school.”
St. Mary’s Academy will host its annual Career Day on Friday, January 26, 2018. The day will be an exciting opportunity for students to gain insight and perspectives into a variety of careers while discovering the pathways to success.
Included in the day will be aA�keynote address, interactive breakout sessions and workshops. Additionally, representatives will be on hand to disseminateA� information on summer programs and internships.
“The objective of Career Day is to help our students explore numerous career opportunities and give them the tools to make informed choices about their future,” said SMA academic advisor Tamiko Massey-Haynes who believes that the event also connects the academic program with the essential skills required for various professions. “Getting the knowledge first-hand is like getting a study guide before the test. Nothing beats proper preparation.”Read More
SMA seniors recently participated in a full day of etiquette and protocol workshops on Friday, December 8th at Morton’s the Steakhouse located at 365 Canal St Suite 220, New Orleans, LA.A� Aptly called, Social Savvy Day, the workshops were facilitated by LaKesha Mosley, founder/director of the Etiquette Training Center of Louisiana (ETC).
Seminars offered included “Dressing for Success,” “Business Communication,” “Fine Dining” and Poise and Presentation.” Participants also enjoyed a continental breakfast and four-course luncheon at the restaurant.
Recognized for her elegance, style, and classy confidence, LaKesha a�?Ellea�? Mosley is known and respected as a leader in the etiquette and protocol industry; and regularly appears on television as a TV Personality and Entertainment Show Host for local affiliate stations KTAL NBC-Studio6 and FOX 33-Morning Showcase. She is a native of Shreveport, LA
Michelle Ellis is the Founder & President of The YOU Awards International, co-owner of Ellis Modeling & Talent Agency and a Multimedia Account Executive for the NBC Affiliate in Atlanta, GA.A� She has had a very successful career in the media industry working for the ABCA�Affiliate in New Orleans, LA, the CBS Affiliate in New Orleans, LA and Cox Communications in New Orleans, LA.
Over the years Michelle has received several awards in sales & marketing for her hard work and continues to strive to be the best in everything she does.A� More recently Michelle has found success with the non-profit organization she started called The YOU Awards International by recognizing the outstanding achievements of young people in the community.A� Although she recognizes young people for their accomplishments she has also garnered recognition for the outstanding job she has doneA�as a leader of this amazingA�organization.A�A�In addition to this, Michelle has been a long standing volunteer with The Trumpet Awards Foundation which is an international awards showA�known around the world.A� Even though Michelle has had a lot of success in her career, she acknowledges that her biggest success comes in the form of family as a wife and mother of her two daughters.
If there is one thing to remember about Michelle, it’s that she lives by the saying that she heard a while back from Pastor T.D. Jakes which is “Live your life without limits and let history explain how you did it.”A� She is one ladyA�to follow in the future!Read More
SMA congratulates our Million Dollar Scholars Raiyon HunterA�and Diara Jackson. Both of these dynamic young women earned over $1million each in scholarship offers to over 23 different colleges and universities. Raiyon has chosen to attend Spelman CollegeA�and Diara will attend Jackson State University.
A�Raiyon Hunter A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A�A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� A� Diara Jackson