February Letter from the President
“Lasallian spirituality is not a spirituality which flees from engagement with life but one which balances our personal relationship with a loving God with that of being the presence and action of God in relationship to others.” (Br. Gerard Rummery, FSC, excerpt from “Lasallian Spirituality”)
Happy Mardi Gras, Cavaliers! As I compose this month’s newsletter, the final weekend of Mardi Gras is upon us. I know I speak for most of us in looking forward to the celebrations in the coming days with family and friends. When we return to school from the Mardi Gras holidays on March 6, we will have only a few months left in the school year for us to make 2016-2017 as successful as it can be. But knowing our school community, each of us will be making the most of additional opportunities to grow both individually and as a community.
I take this opportunity during our Mardi Gras celebrations to share with you the positive results of my small group conversations over the past several months with faculty, staff, students, and parents. These results are certainly reason for celebration. Many of the comments detailed here were repeated by numerous people. All of the positive comments below from faculty, staff, students, and parents were answers to the question, “What is the most important aspect of De La Salle, the one aspect that you would not want to be changed?”
Our faculty and staff shared the following positive aspects of De La Salle–“We are a true community. We are a family. Diversity of many types is valued-socio-economic diversity, co-educational diversity, ethnic/racial diversity, and varied learning styles diversity. We have happy students. We have a happy faculty. We have a committed faculty. Our school is a true reflection of New Orleans. The block schedule is good for our students. We have a supportive administration. We strive to make De La Salle affordable and accessible to our families. We have the autonomy as teachers to present the curriculum in ways that help our students achieve success.”
Our students shared the following positive aspects of De La Salle–“The family atmosphere helps us feel comfortable and allows us to grow as leaders. We feel strong support from all aspects of the school community. The variety of clubs allows everyone to find his/her niche. We are known by name. We know that the diversity is helping us grow as members of our society. We appreciate that the school strives to make a De La Salle education affordable. We have quality teachers who want us to succeed and who do a great deal outside of class to help and support us. Teachers are open to students speaking with them about issues. We feel that we have a say and that the school involves us in discussing change at De La Salle. The student-teacher relationship is very good. We appreciate being involved in issues of social justice. We enjoy being with each other at De La Salle. Adults are considerate of students.”
Our parents shared the following positive aspects of De La Salle–“The spirit of the school is extremely welcoming and helpful. There is a real sense of community. Students are happy. There is a wealth of opportunities for students to use their talents. The student-teacher ratio is great. Students are able to shine as individuals. The various aspects of diversity at the school are a good thing. The block schedule really helps students to succeed. It is noticeable that many faculty attend events to support students. Teachers are genuinely interested in students’ success, but they do not “hand-hold.” The entire community is pulling for students to succeed. While athletics are very successful, there are many opportunities outside athletics for students to use their talents.”
And while I have not had the same types of group conversations with alumni, I certainly have enjoyed meeting alumni on an individual basis in numerous circumstances; and I look forward to continual, future opportunities to meet more and more alumni, to hear their stories about De La Salle, and to answer whatever questions they may have. I encourage alumni to contact me at [email protected]
com or 504-503- 7554 if you would like to see first-hand all the wonderful things happening these days at De La Salle. Please also contact me if you simply want to share your story with me and/or if you would like to learn more about me and my hopes for De La Salle.
One of the many blessings and privileges I have as president is the opportunity to engage the members of our school community as I did when I had these small group conversations with various constituencies. And it is so gratifying to know that the foundation of most of the positive experiences our people have at De La Salle can be traced back to the positive relationships that are created among the members of our school community. As Br. Rummery stated in the quote that began this newsletter, relationships that we nurture by being the hands, eyes, mouth, and feet of God is at the core of Lasallian spirituality.
Speaking of Lasallian spirituality, we are very excited that Brother Michael Livaudais, FSC, a former, long-time faculty member here at De La Salle High School who is currently the Lead Coordinator for Vocation Ministry in the New Orleans area for the San Francisco-New Orleans District, will be offering a Lenten reflection for alumni, parents, faculty, and staff on March 16 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. here at De La Salle. We look forward to Brother Michael’s reflection, and we thank him for making this time to be with us. We look forward to many more opportunities for Brother Michael and other Brothers to be with us here in various ways at De La Salle, and we are grateful for them doing so.
We have so much for which we are grateful. As the weeks and months accumulate, our students and their successes continue to make us both grateful and proud as a school community. On February 18th at Southeastern Louisiana University, our students competed with hundreds of students from across the southern part of the state in the 2017 Louisiana District Rally. Based on their performances at District Rally, some students earned the privilege to compete in State Rally on April 1at LSU. We are excited that twelve De La Salle students earned the privilege to compete at State Rally. We are especially excited that eight of our students placed first in District in their respective subject areas. These students are Gabe Becker (Algebra II), Anne Morris (English II), Bobbi Conway (Fine Arts), Brandon Blackwell (Health), Demi Robinette (Journalism), Ryan Sandoz (Principles of Business), Jasmine Williams (Sociology), and Gordon Towell (Spanish II). Four other students did not place first but still performed well enough to merit advancement to State Rally. These students are Remi Bonneval (Biology I), Luke Becker (Chemistry), Jordan Pierre (World Geography), and Brandon Gauthier (World History). Please join me in congratulating these students and in wishing them well at State Rally in a little over a month.
I take this opportunity to thank faculty member Peggy St. John for her coordination of the Rally competition and thanks as well go to faculty member Donna Pizanie and former faculty member Kathy Calder for helping Peggy.
Continuing the academic theme, at our February Principal’s Assembly on February 20, our college counselor, Kate Massey, informed our school community that with only twenty seniors reporting, they have already been accepted to over fifty colleges and universities and have already garnered over two million dollars in scholarships. As more seniors report, we will continue to update our school community about this wonderful news for the Class of 2017.
We are very proud of our students who recently earned honors in Junior and Senior High District Honor Band competition on January 20-22. Congratulations go to Matthew Courcelle and Sal Marino who were selected to the Junior High Honor Band and to Steven Mylie for being selected to Senior High Honor Band.
Our band, Cavalettes, and cheerleaders have already marched in three Mardi Gras parades; namely, Caesar, Babylon, and Krewe D’Etat. Two are remaining-Thoth and Rex. It has been a privilege to march with them, with their parents and other family chaperones, and with several other school administrators. The students have really done well. Many people along the parade routes have responded well to the Cavaliers marching by. Many thanks go to band director, Duncan Pray, for all of his good work with the band, to Dinesha McGill for her good work with the Cavalettes, and to Chelsi Taylor for her good work with the cheerleaders. Of course, many thanks as well go to our parents who are so supportive of their Cavalier children who participate in these three groups.
Besides the academic and artistic successes mentioned above, our student-athletes have also had wonderful successes. Our wrestling team worked extremely hard all year, and their hard work and determination paid off in Shreveport the weekend of February 9-10 when they won the state championship for the second year in a row. Three Cavaliers won individual championships in their respective weight classes; namely, Conrad Wyre (152 lbs.), Eric Hamrick (220 lbs.), and Jeremiah James (285 lbs.). Congratulations go to these wrestlers for achieving the ultimate goal in their wrestling season. Of course, congratulations go as well to all the wrestlers for contributing to the team’s success.
Nearly all of the wrestlers placed in the top 3-4 in their respective weight classes, and that is the type of team effort that is needed to win a state championship. Of course, many congratulations are in order for head coach Rod Cusachs and his coaching assistants, Bob Ledoux, Alex Martin, Jason Hamrick, Scott Chappuis, and Jacob Karl for all of their hard work in placing the team in the position to achieve success.
By virtue of achieving a stellar regular season record, our boys’ basketball team has earned the #3 seed in the state playoffs and will be playing a quarterfinal playoff game on Friday, March 3 here at De La Salle for the privilege of advancing to a semi-final game in Lake Charles on Wednesday, March 8. We are extremely excited for the boys’ basketball team, and we certainly look forward to supporting them as they make their playoff run. Congratulations go to head coach, Paul Kelly, and to his assistants, Chris Perrone and Bryan Cole, for placing the team in the position to achieve success.
Congratulations go to other winter sports teams for doing extremely well in their respective seasons. Our girls’ basketball team won a first-round home playoff game against Sacred Heart before falling to the state’s #2 seed, St. Thomas More in Lafayette. Congratulations go to head girls’ basketball coach, Justin Martineau, and to his assistant, John Rodriguez. Congratulations go as well to girls’ soccer for advancing to the playoffs. The team graduates only one senior, and the future is bright for the team. Many thanks go to head coach, Mark Aguilar, and to his assistants, Jesse Otis and Amanda Rourk. Congratulations go as well to boys’ soccer for a solid season that promises future success. Like the girls’ soccer team, only one senior was on the team. Many thanks go to head coach, Alan DeRitter, and his assistant, Derek Martin, for their good work in building the program. The spring sports of baseball, softball, track and field, tennis, and golf are just kicking into gear, but we look forward to their future accomplishments.
Congratulations go already to our JV baseball team for their recent victory over Rummel, and congratulations go as well to our softball team for opening their season with wins over Thomas Jefferson and Ursuline.
As we look to other events in the future, we have the following on deck. The De La Salle St. Joseph Altar will take place on Monday, March 20. Monetary donations are most welcomed, and the money will be used to place orders for specialty breads and cakes. Everyone in the school community is invited to participate– -students, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The altar will be open Monday, March 20 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Everyone is also invited to help set-up on Sunday, March 19, the actual feast day of St. Joseph. Please call Marilyn Piglia D’Antoni at 503-7621 if you have questions about donating in any way. Many thanks go to Marilyn for her coordination of this special event.
While nearly everyone in the school community will still be enjoying their Mardi Gras holidays after Mardi Gras Day, De La Salle will be hosting the State’s Regional Speech Tournament on Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4. Please also note that The Cav Shop has new expanded days and times when it is open. You may purchase the very latest Cavalier merchandise on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7:15 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
In conclusion, while we are still very much in the midst of all the celebration and activity of Mardi Gras-and happily and rightfully so– -we know that the solemnity and reflection of Lent is not far off. As guest celebrant, Fr. Daniel Green, stated in his sermon to the school community during our February 17 mass, we must never lose sight of the reality that we are not the sources of true energy, goodness, or power. The only true source of energy, goodness, and power is God Himself. So as our energy finds its release in these continuing Mardi Gras celebrations, let us be ready to slow down and welcome Lent with its opportunity for us to tap into the only true source of energy, goodness, and power-God Himself.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever.
De La Salle High School