St. Joseph’s Academy celebrated the start of the 2022-2023 academic year with a Back-to-School Prayer Service, held August 10 in the Academy Student Center.
Principal Stacia Andricain welcomed the large gathering of students, faculty and staff, saying the assembly marked the first time since the fall of 2019 that the entire school community came together to celebrate the first day of school. She introduced a slide show featuring pictures from the various service trips students undertook over the summer. These mission trips accounted for more than 1,000 hours of service to the dear neighbor.
Andricain said this year’s charism theme, Leadership: Weave One Heart, expresses the mission of the St. Joseph’s Academy community. “Whether we lead by title or by example, we all serve as leaders in one way or another,” she said. “The question isn’t, ‘Are you a leader?’ The question is, ‘What type of leader are you willing to be?’ As we gather to begin a new year, we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us and to guide us as we build strong bonds with each other and all our dear neighbors.”
Shobe Manuel, student body president, and Claire Waggenspack, Liturgy Club president, began the service with prayers and readings. Each class president led her classmates in prayer. They were Caitlyn Rogers, senior class; Helen Schliewe, junior class; and Lola Avery, sophomore class. Freshman Gretchen Payne led her classmates, who have not yet elected their president.
SJA’s leadership team of President Jan Breen, Andricain, Dean of Academics Aubrey DeJohn, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Aimee Urdiales and Dean of Women Christina Myles offered their prayer for the start of the school year, and Donald Spann, a 15-year member of the custodial staff, led the faculty and staff in prayer. Breen provided updates on the various campus renovations which took place over the summer, including an expanded eSports space, new community space for faculty and staff, a new home for the Writing Center, a new and expanded space for the Andrea Clesi McMakin ’74 STEM Lab and continued work on the Fife Student Commons, with an anticipated completion date in early October.
Urdiales introduced the members of the facilities and operations departments who worked to make the updates possible: Suzie Toups Adler, facilities director; Linda Thompson, operations director; Arthur Smith, maintenance supervisor; and custodial staff members Donald Spann, Mark Dolittle, Trey Gaudin, Ernest Adams, Barbara Harris, Dee Le, Larry Patin, Robert Williams, Karen Sanders and Keira Martin.
Myles welcomed the 257 members of the freshman class. She also welcomed new sophomores Emma Amato, Claire Bergeron, Sofia Black, Genevieve Corry, Andria Druel, Haley Faucheux, Jayda Guidroz, Hannah Hill, Taylor Purnell, Janessa Ramlochan and Cameron Rongey; new juniors Riley Bruad, Celine Chanakian, Arwen Hughes and Poppy Pellissier; and returning senior Katie Tarver.
DeJohn introduced the faculty and staff members joining the SJA community this year, including mid-year hires Suzie Adler, Corynn Major and Jeff Williams; new members Sarah Catherine Buie, Chelsea Colomb, Kolbe David, Daniel Felty, Amanda Gurzynski, Erin Hart, Christina Myles, Diana Nunez, Sarah Oldendorf and Kayla Telhiard; maternity leave replacements Ally Gardina, Cherie Lato and Assiyah Spell; and returning faculty/staff members Dr. Fran Barbera, Ryan Hallford, Kevin Landry, Brianna Sommers and Priscilla Talbot.
Andricain recognized the faculty and staff members celebrating milestone years of service to SJA this year. Honored for five years were Cody Arceneaux, Laura Flandez, Jonathan Durocher, Rachel Eddlestone, Melissa Flowers, Tim LaBauve, Kaki Lowe and Meredith Smith. Recognized for 10 years were Jen Fontaine, Lisa Knotts, Marie Vukovics and Cindy Downs. Celebrating 15 years are Stephen Barrios, Emily Peavy, Leigh Grace Rouyer and Donald Spann. Recognized for 20 years were Brad Buras and Aimee Cronan. Liz Fontenot is celebrating 25 years, and Arthur Smith was honored for 35 years of service.
The Praise & Worship Band led the singing of Love Will Hold Us Together by Matt Maher. Band members are Izzy Gruner, keyboard and vocals; Anna Crasto, vocals; Alan LeCoq, percussion; and Hugo Andricain, guitar. Senior Elena Kelly closed the assembly with the singing of the alma mater.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine