To say that Jasmin Bindom is an amazing young woman is an understatement. Defying what seemed to be insurmountable odds, this dynamic dynamo continues to inspire and astound people every day.
Bindom was a high school junior at St. Mary’s Academy in 2011 when she suddenly became ill. She spent weeks in a burn unit at a local hospital before being diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). The debilitating disease is caused by a severe reaction to both over the counter and prescription medication, and can be fatal if not properly and promptly diagnosed and treated.
Following many surgeries and painstaking recovery, Bindom is a survivor in every sense of the word. Presently a senior at Dillard University in New Orleans majoring in public health, she also works tirelessly to promote awareness and raise money for Stevens-Johnson syndrome through her Team Jasmin SJS Awareness Walk. Additionally, she also supports St. Mary’s Academy each year by generously giving a $2000 scholarship to a deserving senior.
“I graduated from SMA and wanted to be able to give back to my alma mater,” said Bindom adding that senior year can be especially trying in terms of financial obligations. “A little extra money can go a long way when buying books and other needed materials for college.”
For Deja Crayton, the scholarship was awarded following her submission of a moving essay on SJS to Bindom. “This scholarship afforded me a wonderful opportunity to not only further my education but learn more about Stevens-Johnson syndrome,” said Crayton who will study nursing in the fall at Southern University in Baton Rouge.
“I am so grateful to Ms. Bindom for this most generous award.”
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.”
A wide range of science concepts may be learned through cooking, but the logistics can make it difficult to cook in a classroom.A� Not a problem for kindergarten teacher Theresa Barnhizer who recently taught her preschoolers how to make ice cream usingA�milk, sugar, ice and zip lock bags.
According to experts, making ice cream with preschoolers teaches about how properties of matter can change without having to deal with the potential dangers associated with cooking with a group of children. While an ice cream maker can be an effective tool, making individual portions in a bag is both fun and educational.
Photos courtesy of NOLA.com and the Advocate.com
For the first time since 2001, St. Marya��s Academy is headed to the Final Four. The Cougars cinched a seat in the Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Marsh Madness with a stunning victory over reigning Division III state championship Northlake Christian.A�Now they are just two wins away from hanging another state championship banner in the gym beside the coveted championship won in 1998.
St. Marya��s Academy plays Riverside in Wednesdaya��s semifinal in Alexandria. A win there and they would advance to the championship game to play either St. Thomas Aquinas or rival St. Katharine Drexel Prep in what would most certainly be an a�?all-New Orleans showdown.a�?
St. Marya��s Academy is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of events throughout the month of February. The theme of our celebration is a�?Remembering Our Heritage While Shaping Our Future.a�?
Profiles in Black
February 1-28A� A�
Every morning during announcements, a student will profile a significant event or icon in
Black History Month Quiz Bowl
Thursday, February 22, 2018
In honor of Black History Month we will be hosting a Black History Quiz Bowl. Each grade level is asked to form a team of four people to represent them. Study guides for all students and teachers are available on RenWeb. A�The quiz bowl will take place in the gym on Thursday, February 22 at 1:30PM. The following teams will face off against each other:
5th grade and 6th
7th and 8th
9th and 10th
11th and 12th
HomeroomA� Decorating Contest
Judging on Thursday, February 22, 2018
Every middle and high school homeroom is asked to decorate their classroom by depicting the theme, a�?Remembering Our Heritage While Shaping Our Future.a�? Classroom judging will take place on Thursday, February 22nd at 3:30PM. Winning classes will be notified on Friday, February 23rd during the Black History Talent Showcase.
Prizes: Classes placing first, second and third will receive a trophy. The first place winners will also receive a pizza party and the homeroom teacher will receive a $50 gift card.
- Do Not use any supplies/materials that will damage school property. Examples include, but are not limited to super glue, hot glue, duct tape, electrical tape, and markings directly on the doors or walls.
- Students should arrange a time with the teacher as to the best times to decorate the classroom
- All decorations must be completed by 3:00PM on February 22nd.
Classes will be judged on Originality, Neatness, Creativity and Theme Adherence.
My Black is Beautiful Day
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
On Tuesday, February 20 is proclaimed My Black is Beautiful Day. On this day students may wear the schoola��s My Black is Beautiful Shirt that is available for $10. Every homeroom teacher will receive an envelope and order form for their class. All orders must be placed no later than Friday morning, February 9, 2018.
Black History Talent Showcase
Friday, February 23, 2018
Friday, February 23 is African American Heritage Celebration. Students who pay $1 may dress in African inspired outfits and we will have an extended lunch 11:30-1:15 PM. We will have face painting, vendors and food trucks. At 1:30PM there will be a Talent Showcase in the gymnasium.Read More
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
It’s been 71 years since Elaine Romain Vallot graduated from St. Mary’s Academy but time never diminished her desire to give back to her alma mater. That dream recently became a reality, when the 1946 graduate presented the school with a check for $25,000.
Designated to fund multiple merit and need-based scholarships for the students of St. Marya��s Academy, the generous donation was madeA�in memory of former SMA principal Mother Mary Francis Borgia, SSF, who was instrumental in Vallot’s life while a student at St. Marya��s Academy.
“Mother Borgia saw to it that I got my diploma and she didn’t ask for a penny,” said Vallot adding that her family had been experiencing tremendous financial hardship. “When someone extends a hand to help you its important to give back.”
Born in New Orleans in 1930 to John and Leda LeVasseur Romain, Vallot grew up with her five siblings in the 7th ward. She attended elementary school at Valena C. Jones, and then went on to attend St. Marya��s Academy, where she graduated in 1946 at the age of 16. With the help of Mother Mary Francis Borgia, Vallot became a teacher for a small community school near Port Sulfur, LA. There she became acquainted with a couple who later introduced her to William Vallot, a sugar cane farmer from Vermilion Parish. She and William wed in 1952 and settled in a farming community called Grosse Isle, outside of Abbeville, LA, where they have spent the past 64 years. They were blessed with six children, three sons and three daughters. She lost a son to cancer in 1993, and most recently, William was laid to rest. Elaine devoted her life to raising her children and being a strong support to William, as he and the family grew what has become a substantial sugar cane operation. Her sons currently cultivate over 3000 acres of sugar cane annually.
Throughout the years, Vallot regaled her children with stories of her early life, including those of her years as a student at St. Marya��s Academy. Her fondest memory is of Mother Mary Francis Borgia, who helped her by forgiving the tuition debt her family couldna��t pay, thus allowing her to graduate.A� Elaine always vowed that she would someday return the kindness shown to her by Mother Borgia. That promise was fulfilled on December 2, 2017 at the 150th Anniversary Gala, when Vallot and her family presented a gift of $25,000 to SMA president Sr. Clare of Assisi Pierre, SSF.
Beautiful Lawson, the New Orleans City Queen for the National All-American Miss Teen Pageant recently represented the Big Easy in Anaheim, Calif. by competing in the Teen division of the nationwide pageant.
Lawson is a 17-year-old graduating senior at St. Marya��s Academy. Her first pageant, the National American Miss Louisiana, which took place in June, qualified her to advance to the National All-American Miss Teen pageant where she was the voice and face of New Orleans.
While Lawson did not clinch a national title in the pageant, she represented her city well and is appreciative for the opportunity.A�a�?Being able to represent the city where my actual heart is, was pretty cool,a�? Lawson said adding that her participation was a great stepping stone to her future endeavor of becoming an actress.
Inspired by former Disney Channel star, China Anne McClain and Golden Globe award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson, Lawson said she hopes to be as influential as those two strong Black women.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
The Department of Defense has partnered with St. Marya��s Academy to offer a dynamic program aimed at cultivating the next generation of engineers and scientists.
STARBASE 2.0 is a three year creative immersion into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts through hands-on science and engineering activities and projects. The 2.0 curriculum is a continuation of the original STARBASE program, which provides fifth grade students with an exciting 25-hour hands-on, STEM course.
Twenty-five Male Academy students in grades six and seven are currently taking part in the program this semester. The curriculum covers bridge building, Bristol Bot robots and robotics.
According to Lisa Calabresi, director of the local STARBASE academy, STARBASE 2.0 combines STEM activities with a relationship-rich, school-based environment that provides the missing link for youth making the transition from elementary to middle school.
a�?These type of hands-on activities really excite and challenge students,” Calabresi said. “It really opens doors for students who don’t believe it is possible for them to make achievements in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and math.”
STARBASE Jackson Barracks 2.0 Program has been operating since 2015.A� This is the first year that they have partnered with St. Mary Academy.A� In January, the program will be extended to St. Mary’s Academy middle school girls.
Raising awareness in the sciences was the focus of a recent workshop hosted by Xavier University’s Physics Department. SMA students who have taken physics within the last three years spent a full-day on Xavier’s campus learning the science behind everyday items such as cellular devices and computers. They also toured the department, had lunch and built their own roller coasters from items that were present in the classroom.
According to Sr. Judith Therese Barial who heads the Science department at St. Mary’s Academy, the workshop demonstrated to the students the relevancy of Math to their daily lives, the world around them and their future careers. “Math and Science teachers strive to provide a real-world context for the skills that they teach as well as the rationale behind the concept they are teaching,” said Sr. Judith. “This workshop took them out of the realm of the classroom and gave them practical, real-world applications of the sciences.”
On Friday, October 6, 2017, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy FamilyA� continued their 175th anniversary celebration with a Youth Mass, 10:00AM at
St. Mary’s Academy.A� New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond served as celebrant of the Mass with concelebrants Father Daniel Green and Father Howard Byrd and homilist Father Tony Ricard.
More than 500 students representing schools throughout the Archdiocese of New Orleans were in attendance as well as a host of priests, deacons, Sisters of the Holy Family and invited guests. Schools present at the Mass included St. Mary’s Academy, St. Augustine High School, Katharine Drexel Prep, St. Peter Claver, Jesuit, Holy Cross, Archbishop Rummel, De la Salle High School, St. Leo the Great, St. Joan of Arc, Archbishop Chapelle, St. Rita and St. Michael School.
Twenty years before the Civil War of the United States, and before it was legal for such a congregation to exist, the Sisters of the Holy Family were founded in New Orleans by Venerable Henriette Delille, a free woman of color and co-founders Juliette Gaudin and Josephine Charles. The congregation dedicated their lives to teaching the slaves, caring for the elderly and the most abject of society.
Since their founding in 1842, the Sisters have been the faces of love, mercy and compassion to people all over the world including the United States, Belize, Central America, and Africa. Additionally, they have faithfully ministered in schools, parishes, nursing homes, prisons and housing for the elderly.
a�?The Sisters of the Holy Family have a rich legacy of caring and sharing with and for the people of God,a�? said SMA president and alumna Sr. Clare of Assisi Pierre, SSF who served for 13 years in Belize. a�?This Mass, dedicated to our youth, is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment that the Sisters made 175 years ago.a�?
Those sentiments were echoed by St. Marya��s Academy principal Sr. Jennie Jones, SSF, a 1970 alumna of the Academy.
a�?As one of the oldest private Catholic schools in the nation, we are exceedingly grateful to the Sisters of the Holy Family and foundress Venerable Henriette Delille for their foresight, perseverance and continued guidance,a�? said Sr. Jennie Jones, SSF. a�?This celebration is an opportunity for our youth in the city to come together and reflect on the blessings of our past, recognize the many opportunities of our present and work toward an even brighter future.a�?
You may download a copy of the Youth Mass Program by clicking the link below;
St. Mary’s Academy will host its annual Debutante Ball on Friday,
April 27, 2018, 8PM at the Pontchartrain Center. At that time, the 39 members of the senior class will be formally presented to society.
Highlighting the ball will be the presentation of the queen and her Royal Court. In order to secure a place in the court, there are guidelines that must be met. Contestants must raise a minimum of $1000 to secure a place in the court. The contestant raising the most money will be crowned queen. If a contestant plans to sell food items on campus, they must first sign a permission form and place a non-refundable deposit of $300. To obtain a copy of the permission form, please click the link below: