Community and Traditions
Traditions are a hallmark of the St. Joseph’s Academy experience
Traditions bind our students to one another and to the generations of Academy graduates who came before them. Through shared experiences, SJA students and alumnae become members of a special SJA sisterhood, filled with all the compassion and warmth of family.
Traditions are a beautiful portrayal of what SJA stands for and instills in each of its students.
This traditional ceremony is part of SJA’s Big Sis/Lil Sis program and symbolizes the passing of Academy traditions from senior big sisters to their freshmen little sisters. We have found mention of the Big Sis/Lil Sis program dating back to 1910.
Through the Candlelight Ceremony, SJA celebrates the relationship between the freshman and senior classes. As freshmen little sisters become new members of the SJA community, senior big sisters are given the responsibility of serving as leaders and mentors. This ceremony marks the beginning of new-found relationships that will last a lifetime
Each spring, Academy juniors receive their school rings during the Ring Ceremony. The ceremony commemorates the juniors’ three years at SJA and marks the point at which they make the transition to their senior year. SJA school rings are rich in symbolism and serve to forever bind their recipients as a class and with the generations of Academy graduates who came before them and who will follow in their footsteps.
School rings serve as reminders of the honor and prestige Academy students enjoy as well as the responsibility they bear. Over many years, the SJA school ring has signified the wearer as a young woman for others, dedicated to her Catholic faith traditions and to the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The May Crowning ceremony is held in late April or early May. The long-standing tradition honors Mary, the young woman who said “yes” to God’s invitation to mother Jesus. The seniors who participate in the ceremony are chosen by their classmates, faculty and staff because they exhibit strong moral character, honesty, integrity, a genuine responsiveness to the needs of the dear neighbor and commitment to their Catholic faith.
Sponsored by the faculty and alumnae of St. Joseph’s Academy, the annual Honors Convocation is held on the Friday night before commencement to celebrate the graduating class. Members of the class are also inducted into the SJA Alumnae Association.
On this evening, numerous honors are bestowed, including senior class favorites; the senior service award for those who gave at least 50 hours of service during each of their four years at SJA; the four major athletic awards; distinguished quality awards; memorial awards; and the Seal of Biliteracy. Also recognized are second academics (students who earned a 3.0-3.499 cumulative grade point average); first academics (students who earned a 3.5-5.0 cumulative GPA); honors graduates (students who earned a 3.8 GPA while taking 11 honors/Advanced Placement courses); the Principal’s Award (students earning all As for semester grades in every class for four years); the salutatorian; and the valedictorian.
Mass and Commencement Exercises
Each year, St. Joseph’s Academy celebrates the graduating class with a Mass and Commencement Exercises. Mass is celebrated by Bishop Michael Duca, who is joined by other priests and deacons in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
Following mass, class members receive their diplomas after having met all standards for graduation as prescribed by SJA. The celebration also includes speeches by the valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class.
Since 2005, St. Joseph’s Academy and Catholic High School have come together each spring for Challenge Day, a multi-event competition hosted by the student councils of each school. (Challenge Day 2020 was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.) Part of the competition is the Challenge Day Food Drive to benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
The event is so popular that alumnae, parents and friends enjoy the action at a live-feed viewing party. Out-of-town supporters watch the video stream, which is the work of the student-run SJABR-TV club, via their smart phones, computers and TVs.
SJA students enjoy several dances throughout the year. In the fall, Catholic High School hosts the Get-Acquainted Dance for all students, followed by the annual Homecoming Dance. During the spring semester, SJA hosts three dances: Sweetheart, planned by Student Council freshman class representatives for their classmates and dates; Winter Formal, planned by sophomore class representatives for sophomores, juniors and seniors and their dates; and SJA Prom, planned by junior class representatives for the junior and senior classes and their dates. Also in the spring, SJA students have the opportunity to attend the CHS Prom.
Once per semester, Student Council members and the SJA Cheerleaders host a pep rally. The themed rallies, held in the Academy Student Center, feature games and spirit competitions. Additionally, the fall pep rally honors the cross country, swim and volleyball teams. The spring pep rally celebrates the basketball, bowling, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, tennis and track and field teams.
This friendly competition between the grade levels is designed to encourage attendance at designed events throughout the year. Points are earned based on class attendance, with the winning grade engraved on the Class Cup trophy at the end of the year.
For questions regarding Student Life at SJA, please contact our Dean of Women:
Dean of Women
Discover Your Class Mascot
We’re all Redstickers, but, depending on the year of your graduation, you’re also a flamingo, bee, turtle or dolphin.
The purpose of the class mascots is to build community and identity within each grade level.
In recent years, several new senior-class traditions have become treasured additions to the SJA experience. Each senior class begins the year with Senior Sunrise. Held on the first day of school, Senior Sunrise brings the entire class together to watch the sun rise over campus, unite in prayer and compose a letter to themselves. The year ends with Senior Sunset, when the letters are redistributed, fun class superlatives are shared and paper lanterns are released to celebrate the soon-to-be graduates’ transition into life as alumnae.
On their last day of school, the seniors undertake their final walk through campus as students. Underclasswomen, faculty and staff line our walkways to cheer, hug and celebrate the senior class as they are led by our administration on their Senior Walk.
A traditional part of our Big Sis/Lil Sis program, the annual Hat Day tradition brings creativity and laughter to campus. Each year, senior Big Sisters make fun hats for their freshmen Little Sisters complete with puns celebrating their special friendships.