On Friday, October 6, 2017, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family continued their 175th anniversary celebration with a Youth Mass, 10:00AM at
St. Mary’s Academy. 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.
The Sisters of the Holy Family have a rich legacy of caring and sharing with and for the people of God, said SMA president and alumna Sr. Clare of Assisi Pierre, SSF who served for 13 years in Belize. This Mass, dedicated to our youth, is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment that the Sisters made 175 years ago.
Those sentiments were echoed by St. Mary’s Academy principal Sr. Jennie Jones, SSF, a 1970 alumna of the Academy.
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, said Sr. Jennie Jones, SSF. 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.
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:
Seven SMA students have been selected to participate in the Teen Ambassadors Against Crime program sponsored by Crimestoppers of New Orleans. They are Demi Bowens, Caitlyn Banks, Tori Knight, Donya Marioneaux, Rodnae’ Lee, Kaci Penn and Dymen Slaughter.
The TAAC program teaches youth how to examine violence and law-related issues in the context of their schools and communities and how to apply what they learn to real-life circumstances. Students learn about the different types of crime, the costs and consequences of crime, conflict management strategies, how crime affects communities, and what community prevention programs and services are available to them. The program also increases social responsibility in teens, educates them about the law, reduces their potential for victimization, and engages them in making their homes, schools, and communities safer.
Teen Ambassadors selected for 2017-2018 will have the opportunity to participate in:
ROPES Leadership Course
Youth Peace Congress featuring professional speakers and community leaders.
Engaging with Community Resources: Listen to and interact with guest speakers who are prominent members of the local crime prevention and criminal justice community
Tour of Orleans Parish Prison and conversation with rehabilitated parolees.
Networking for student internships and the opportunity to compete for a possible scholarship.
Service learning projects where teens will apply what they have learned to help inform and inspire their peers to be involved in crime prevention
Congratulations to the following middle school students who have earned the title of Student of the Month for September. These outstanding students exemplify great moral character, good citizenship and are hard workers academically.
Since she was a young girl growing up in New Orleans, LA, Lakiesha Claude Williams dreamed of becoming a physician. She always had an aptitude for science and loved caring for others in need.
Yet her plans to work as a medical doctor changed during her senior year of high school at St. Mary’s Academy, when a teacher introduced her to the world of mathematics.
Fast-forward to present day, Dr. Lakiesha N. Williams is an associate professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University. She was the first African-American to get a graduate degree in biological engineering from Louisiana State University , the first African-American to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Mississippi State University, and the first female faculty member in her current department.
Williams also contributes to several outreach programs geared to female engineers in the Mississippi State area and is one of the co-advisors to the Society of Women Engineers at MSU.
Her research focuses on the biomechanics of traumatic brain and leg injuries and how tissues and organs are damaged while developing measures to protect tissues and organs. She and her team then use that data to create safety gear for soldiers and athletes to help them prevent those types of injuries in the future.
Williams credits the preparation that she received at St. Mary’s Academy as a contributing factor to her success as an engineer.
The faculty at SMA preached excellence to us in a loving way and many of them would not accept anything less than our best, said Williams adding that she spent countless late nights awake triple checking her Calculus homework. I believe our teachers were showing us that in real life we will not always get do-overs or partial credit. SMA taught me to never slack on my achievements and when I commit to anything to dive in and go for the gold!
Camp Abbey Retreat Center in Covington provided the perfect setting for the Junior Class Retreat 2017 held September 12-13. Led by campus minister Remy Jones and the senior retreat team , the spirit-filled event centered on developing leadership and sisterhood. Also highlighting the event was the installation of new junior retreat team leaders. Newly installed leaders are Kaylor Hughes and Arletta Colar who joined current members Dominique Finch, Penny Ajala and Kaci Penn.
St. Mary’s Academy Elementary joined the City of New Orleans in celebrating Geaux Blue Day. September 13th was declared Geaux Blue Day by the NO City Council to demonstrate our appreciation for the New Orleans Police officers and their families.
At SMA, elementary students wore blue and gave officers words of support. They also supplied lunch for all Seventh District Officers.
The SMA Honor Society and the MLK Chapter of the National Honor Society has partnered with The Divine Foundation to collect the following items for the Hurricane Harvey families in Texas:
- Toiletries (Deodorant, Lotion, Soap)
- Underclothes (New and in Plastic) underwear, bras, undershirts, camisoles, socks
- Cleaning Supplies
Jasmin Bindom, a 2012 graduate of St. Mary’s Academy, was the victim of Stephen Johnson Syndrome, where her body attacked her outer layer of skin during her senior year. Now, this beautiful young women is a survivor and hosting her very own SJS Awareness Walk on Saturday, October 3, 2017 with a scholarship benefiting an SMA student.Read More
Years of research has shown that family engagement and student academic achievement are inextricably linked. With that fact in mind, schools have begun to spend more time building the capacity of all the key stakeholders to work together in meaningful ways to improve student achievement.
Building the capacity of families and teachers to work together is the focus of a new pilot program currently being conducted in the SMA Elementary division. The pilot project called Scholastic Family and Community Engagement (FACE), is rooted in the research and best practices of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships developed by the US Department of Education. Under the umbrella of Scholastic Family and Community Engagement (FACE), Dr. Karen Mapp’s Family Engagement Workshop Series consists of three interactive, full-day workshops that equip district staff and school teams with the tools and strategies needed to enhance student performance and enable systemic school advancement through family partnerships.
- Workshop 1: Redesigning Family Engagement provides foundational training which underscores the link between family engagement and student achievement while also covering the building blocks for elevating family engagement in schools.
- Workshop 2: Designing Family Engagement Activities deepens participants’ understanding of the Dual Capacity Framework and provides expert-guided, interactive exercises.
- Workshop 3: Engaging Families in Learning Throughout the School Year helps participants connect family engagement to student learning goals as they plan for the coming year.
To support today’s students, school districts must make family engagement a priority and high-quality professional opportunities are crucial to ensuring these programs are implemented successfully, said Dr. Karen Mapp. The Family Engagement Workshop Series’provides educators with the training they need to become ongoing partners with families, allowing them to foster student success together.
With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Karen Mapp has been devoted to cultivating partnerships among schools, families and communities for enhancing student achievement and school performance. The building blocks of both the Family Engagement Workshop Series and the Scholastic Literacy Events program are centered on Dr. Mapp’s 3 Prerequisites for successful family-school partnership.
“We are extremely excited to have been chosen for inclusion in the FACE pilot program,” said SMA Lead Elementary teacher Norma Bemiss, adding that all educators can benefit from any tools that help students achieve their full academic potential. “The FACE pilot provides us with a framework to partner with our families and communities to to ensure all students have the opportunity to benefit from the highest quality instruction.”
SMA students are provided with many opportunities for spiritual contemplation and development. Recently, the Class of 2018 took a brief respite from their academic studies to participate in the annual senior retreat. Held at the Lumen Christi Retreat Center in Schriever, LA., the thought-provoking event afforded students the opportunity to examine their lives and strengthen their bonds with each other.
“In spite of the fact that God wants the best for each of us, many people find that there is something that is holding them back from experiencing a fulfilling life,” said campus minister Remy Jones who organized the retreat. “Letting go of those obstacles while deepening our spiritual connection was the focus of this retreat.
Music has always been a major part of Irene Young’s life. At the tender age of 6, she began taking piano lessons at Werleins in downtown New Orleans. It was there that Young learned how to read sheet music, ultimately becoming a proficient piano and organ player.
Recognizing that she had the gift of song, Young’s mother encouraged her to practice daily and hone her craft. Zenobia Stewart, a high school music teacher at John Mc Donogh High School provided additional training and helped Young secure a four-year scholarship to attend Xavier University. It was at Xavier that Young met the late Estelle Baham, a music instructor who gave her voice lessons and recommended her for a position at St. Mary’s Academy. Young was subsequently hired by then principal Sr. Demetria Williams, SSF in 1979 and the rest is history. Starting as an accompanist, Young quickly moved up the ranks becoming the director of the Resurrection Singers and Junior and Senior choruses.
In addition to being fully dedicated to serving the students of St. Mary’s Academy, Young has been the Minister of Music at St. David’s Catholic Church since 1975. She has garnered many awards for her service to the community through song along with her devoted husband and soulmate of 37 years Stephen Young, Sr. The loving couple have raised 5 children, one granddaughter and are expecting a grandson in October. They both live by the motto, “Music is harmony, harmony is love and love is God.”
DUE TO BAD WEATHER, DINNER AT SUNSET HAS BEEN POSTPONED. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED ONCE A NEW DATE IS CONFIRMED
St. Mary’s Academy will host its Dinner at Sunset, in conjunction with the school’s Weeks of Welcome, on Friday, September 1, 2017 from 6:00 to 9:00pm. The picnic-style event will take place on the grounds of the school’s campus located at 6905 Chef Menteur Blvd and will feature culinary delights sure to satisfy any foodie’s palate. Three gourmet food trucks will be participating including: Grilling Shilling, Diva Dawg and Kenny’s Cajun & Creole Food Truck . Additionally, the event will feature train and carousel rides, music and a free movie showing.
Admission to the event is free and is open to all SMA students and their families, faculty, staff and alumnae of the school. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, tables and blankets. Food truck menu items will be sold with costs ranging from $2 to $18. Menu items include fish, shrimp and oyster platters/po’boy; wing basket, gourmet burgers, chicken burgers, salmon burgers, chicken on a stick, crawfish etouffee fries, Crown apple pie bread pudding, grilled BBQ ribs, pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, corn on a cob, collard greens and gourmet hot dogs,(No outside food and drink will be allowed on campus)
Darlene Hutchinson was recently named as the new Elementary Coordinator for St. Mary’s Academy. With more than 39 years teaching and leadership experience, Hutchinson, most recently served as a kindergarten teacher, a position she has held since 2006.
Prior to her tenure at SMA, Hutchinson worked at Corpus Christi School for 14 years and Perrault Kiddie Kollege. Additionally, she taught enrichment courses at UNO mini college.
As a proud graduate of St. Mary’s Academy, I have a vested interest and will do whatever it takes to build a legacy of excellence in this position, said Hutchinson, a 1977 alumna. With God’s help and the assistance of administrators I know that all things are possible.
Hutchinson earned a B.A in Education from the University of New Orleans.and also maintains credentials as a Child Development Associate.Read More
St. Mary’s Academy will begin its first full day of classes on Monday, August 14 but students can catch the Maryite spirit even before starting class. The Weeks of Welcome, affectionately known as WOW, is a series of events and informative seminars geared specifically to getting new and returning students involved and excited about SMA from day one.
The WOW festivities will kick off on Monday, August 7 with a Family Bash from 6:00PM-8:00PM at Fulton Alley, New Orleans’ premiere luxury bowling facility. Open to all SMA middle/high school students, parents, faculty and staff, the Family Bash is designed to bring the Maryite family together for fun, bowling and entertainment.
SMA will also host its Welcome Convocation at 8:00AM on Thursday, August 10 in Austin Gymnasium. The official welcome for all new and returning students, the Convocation will include messages from the school’s president and principal, a keynote speaker, and student performances.
Following the Convocation, students will be treated to a Sister to Sister Dialogue, offering alumnae perspectives on the SMA experience. Rounding out the day will be a Pining Ceremony for the freshman class, officially signaling their arrival into the high school division.
On Friday, August 11, all students will take part in the Academic B.A.S.H. (Be a Success Here,) featuring seminars on topics such as time management, stress management, testing skills, improving concentration and reading effectively for academic success. A Mass for Unification of the school, community and world will follow. The day will end with a Welcome Luau for middle/high students hosted by the SMA Alumnae Association.
Additional highlights of WOW include a Project LEAD workshop for all students who plan on assuming a leadership role at SMA. WOW festivities will conclude on Friday, September 1 with an event called Dinner at Sunset featuring food trucks, music and entertainment for the entire family.
WOW is a collaborative, introductory effort to welcome, educate and transition our students to life at St. Mary’s Academy, says director of Student Affairs Lisa Ross, adding that the events also serve as a vehicle to emphasize expectations, resources and traditions of the school. Our ultimate goal is to equip all of our students with the necessary resources to navigate the school year with ease and academic success.Read More
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. She has had a very successful career in the media industry working for the ABC 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. 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. Although she recognizes young people for their accomplishments she has also garnered recognition for the outstanding job she has done as a leader of this amazing organization. In addition to this, Michelle has been a long standing volunteer with The Trumpet Awards Foundation which is an international awards show known around the world. 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.” She is one lady to follow in the future!Read More
SMA congratulates our Million Dollar Scholars Raiyon Hunter 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 College and Diara will attend Jackson State University.
Raiyon Hunter Diara Jackson
Thirty-nine eighth graders from St. Mary’s Academy received promotional certificates from Sister of the Holy Family Clare of Assisi Pierre, president, St. Mary’s Academy, and Pamela Rogers, assistant principal on May 22, 2017 at Austin Gymnasium.
Rev. Charles Andrus, SSJ, celebrated the Mass that preceded the ceremonies with special awards being presented by middle school coordinator Pamela Greenwood and admissions director Sr. Cynthia Marie Jackson, SSF.
Camryn Vance, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eric Vance of New Orleans, led the class with the highest average. Throughout her years at St. Mary’s Academy, she has maintained both President’s Honor Roll and Renaissance Star status and was awarded a four-year scholarship.
Earning the highest average awards in the respective subject areas were: Foreign Language-Kamryn Vance; Pre-Algebra-Zariya Toomer; Computer Science-Regan Arceneaux; Algebra1-Kamryn Vance; English Language Arts-Kerrione Hunter; Reading-Regan Arceneaux; Spelling-Regan Arceneaux; LA History-Trinity Jackson, Jailan Magee and Selena Mason; English I-Kamryn Vance; Science-Makenzie Carter; and Physical Education-Jailan Magee.
Promoted to ninth grade were Regan Arceneaux, Laniya Bell, Diamond Blake, Alyssa Brown, Trinity Bullock, Mackenzie Carter, Kyreionna Clark, Quiana Clivens, Cach’e Collins, Salina Easterling, Dylan Ferguson, Tamia Goins, Casey Griggs, Jayla Hale, Aiyant’a Haley, Sidney Haynes, Kerrione Hunter, Ilyana Jackson, Nia Jackson, Trinity Jackson, Kinidy Johns, Nya LaCabe, Jailan Magee, Selena Mason, Kaiya’ Mitchell, Tasia Morris, Korey Robinson, Tharen Robinson, Jamara Smith, Haraji Spadoni, Krysten Taylor, Tomyree Thompson, Zariya Toomer, Kamryn Vance, Larriontae Vaughn, Amaya Weatherspoon, Jaia Yates, Shawndra’ Young, and Demi Youngblood.
Sixty seniors from St. Mary’s Academy received diplomas from Sister of the Holy Family Clare of Assisi Pierre, president, St. Mary’s Academy, and Sister Jennie Jones, principal, in ceremonies marking the 132nd graduation of St. Mary’s Academy May 18 at Dillard University’s Lawless Chapel.
Rev. Charles Andrus, SSJ, celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass that preceded the graduation ceremonies. Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, served as the commencement speaker.
The members of the Class of 2017 have been accepted at more than 64 colleges and universities and have garnered more than $8.3 million dollars in scholarship awards.
Diara Jackson, daughter of Mr. Felix Jackson and Mrs. Shanel Morgan- Jackson 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.
Jackson, a TOPS Scholar, earned the highest-average awards in religion and science. She was a member of several extracurricular activities, including the cheerleading squad, SMA Ambassadors, science club, National Honor Society and SMA Honor Society.
Jackson was awarded more than $1 million in scholarship offers. She received numerous college acceptances including Baylor University, Bethune Cookman University, Butler University, Clark Atlanta University, Drexel University, Florida Memorial University, Grambling State University, Howard University, Louisiana State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Paul Quinn College, Nicholls College, Southeastern Louisiana University, Southwestern University, Southern University, St. Edwards University, Spring Hill College, Talladega College, Wiley College, Xavier University of Louisiana and Jackson State College. In the fall, she will attend Jackson State University majoring in Forensic Science.
The salutatorian was Halle’ McKey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sean McKey, Sr. of New Orleans. McKey, A TOPS scholar, consistently maintained Principal’s Honor Roll and Renaissance Star status throughout her years at SMA. She was an active member of the National and SMA Honor Societies, chorus, Resurrection Singers and Key Club.
McKey was awarded more than $84,000 in scholarship offers. She received acceptance notifications from Florida Memorial University, Spelman College, Spring Hill College, The University of Central Florida and Xavier University of Louisiana. She will attend Xavier University in the fall majoring in pre-med.
Earning the distinction of honor students were Miquel James, Destiny Martin, Audry Loredo, Alysea Colar, Kaeryel Dowl, Barriane Franks, Kali Lewis, Mya Davis, Naya McGill, Lacie Holmes, Caitlin Barnes, Raiyon Hunter, Shania Tyler, Naomi Boyd and Deanna Daggs.
Other graduates included Gabrielle Allen, Destini Alston, Alexy Bateman, Carolyn Bedou, Geraldneka Biagas, Kira Bickham, Maci Broaden, Bailey Brumfield, Jade Clark (posthumous), Colby Cordier, Kion Dangerfield, Evelyn Deal, Mia Felton, Kimani Hamilton, Airelle Harris-Cooper, Lania Harris, Diamond Haynes, Khloe’ Hill, Tai’Lyn Holmes, Kayla Hunter, Ortizia Jackson, Aaiyanna Johnson, Kelsey Jones, Natalie Jones, Jernia London, Seantrell Marrero, Gabriael McCain, Farah McLaughlin, Naya Murray, Jonae Patterson, Eryn Randall, Christy Reine, Danielle Riley, Renae Roberts, Dejon Smith, Raina Smith, Ashlynn Stovall, Diamond Tucker, Taylor Vigee, Ariell Wallace, Jessica Wilson, Ambrosia Woodrich, Tre’Breha Youngblood and Taylar Zeno.
Congratulations to SMA sophomore Penny Ajala who was named Most Valuable Player in the St. Mary’s Academy Marching Band. Terry Davis of Cumulus Radio presented Penny with an Iphone and the marching unit with a trophy. Kudos to band director Ray Johnson and Assistant band director Kurt Brunus on a great season! (pictured below from left to right are Ray Johnson, Penny Ajala and Terry Davis.)Read More
In celebration of the achievements of African Americans this month, St.Mary’s Academy will host an art exhibit of one of its most promising students. Barriane Franks, a senior, has loved art for as long as she can remember. Upon enrolling at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), she was ecstatic to receive professional art instruction and decided to utilize the opportunity to hone her skills visually and conceptually. During her first years at NOCCA and SMA, she was inspired to develop a body of work that illustrated modern social injustice issues while paralleling past historical events. Her pieces Inner Strength through Tribulations and Genocide of Peaceful Innocents are both members of this series. Barriane intends to continue adding pieces to make a massive series of work dedicated to this subject.
The exhibition can be viewed on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in the Austin Gymnasium foyer from 10:00AM-3:00PM. Barriane will be on hand to offer insight into her collection as well as encouragement for others interested in becoming an artist.
“Throughout my career as an artist, I want to inspire my viewers, convey to them my emotions, and give them a new outlook on life,” says Barriane.