The St. Joseph’s Academy Board of Directors hosted The 1868 Dinner on August 29 at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel. The event honored Donor Society members, families and individuals establishing scholarships in the past year and those who served in volunteer leadership capacities. SJA’s Outstanding Alumnae for 2022 – Rene Richard Waldrop ’89, Lasharndra Lotten Barbarin ’91 and Allyson Quijano ’99 – were honored, as were Kay and Roland Toups, the 2022 Spirit of SJA Award recipients.
SJA Board Chair John D’Angelo welcomed the large gathering of guests and thanked them for the important role they play as partners in the Academy’s mission. He introduced emcee Nan Murtagh, a member of the SJA faculty and staff for 39 years.
A group of talented SJA vocalists, under the direction of Danielle Laird, sang the blessing and performed a special tribute to the Outstanding Alumnae and Spirit of SJA Award recipients. The choir sang a top 10 hit from the graduation years of the alumnae and Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love in honor of the Toups. Featured vocalists were seniors Izzy Gruner and Maria Hargrave, junior Anna Crasto and sophomore Addison Macha.
SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen ’69 gave an update on several initiatives directed by the Academy’s strategic plan, including faith development and facilities. She said that thanks to the Endowed Scholarship program, SJA is able to offer need-based assistance to 146 young women who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the gift of a Catholic education.
Principal Stacia Andricain outlined some of the many ways SJA lives the three pillars of its mission statement: faith development, academic excellence and personal growth. She said SJA had 122 AP Scholar Award winners for 2022 and is offering 24 AP courses this year. She said a new entrepreneurship class and Entrepreneurship Club will help train the bright young business owners of the future. She also outlined the accomplishments of SJA’s athletic teams, cheerleaders and Red Steppers dance team and said Academy students enjoy 40-plus clubs and organizations that foster leadership, collaboration and fun.
Mission Advancement Director Meg Gerald announced that seven new scholarships were established in the SJA Foundation during the past year: the Angela Morris Dockum ’86 Scholarship, the Elizabeth “Betty” Klein Bahlinger ’42 Scholarship, the Camille Morrison ’22 Scholarship, the Susan Walker Levasseur ’62 Scholarship, the Marchand Family Scholarship, the Rebecca Stagg Scholarship and the Vision 21 Foundation Scholarship.
Gerald thanked the volunteer leadership of the SJA Annual Fund for the past year: Francine Graphia, Alumnae Annual Fund; Yolunda and Jonathan Taylor, Friends Annual Fund; Elaine (DeFrances ’65) and Randy Ellis, Grandparents Annual Fund; Nan Murtagh and Pat O’Hara, Faculty/Staff Annual Fund; and Lissa and Jeff Weston, Parents Annual Fund.
Also recognized were the new members of SJA’s donor societies in attendance, including new Mother Alice Society members Mr. and Mrs. Derek F. Benedetto; new 1868 Society members Dr. and Mrs. Ryan T. Boone; Mr. and Mrs. William Brown; Mr. and Mrs. Justin J. DeKeyzer; Dr. Paula Elliott and Mr. Donald Elliott; Mr. and Mrs. Ian F. Hipwell; Mr. and Mrs. Billy T. Reed; and Mr. and Mrs. Roger Simmons; new Shield Society members Mr. and Mrs. Robert Truitt III; and new Heritage Society members Mr. John Bahlinger, Mr. Marion Bahlinger, Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Bernard Jr., Mr. Don Dockum, Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Roy and Mr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Valluzzo.
Members of the Father Jean-Pierre Médaille Society in attendance were recognized and thanked. They were the late Sister Carolyn Brady CSJ ’48, represented by Sister Joan Laplace; The Congregation of St. Joseph, represented by the Sisters in attendance; CSJ Ministries, represented by the Sisters in attendance; Elaine (DeFrances ’65) and Randy Ellis; Kean Miller Attorneys at Law, represented by Jennifer Thomas; The late D. Ben Kleinpeter, represented by Debbie Kleinpeter Gelpi ’77; Andrea (Clesi ’74) and Wally McMakin; Sarah and Shane B. Morrison; Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, represented by Kellie Michelli Barton ’86; Beth and Will Pecue II; Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, represented by the Sisters in attendance; SJA Alumnae Association, represented by Lisa Westmoreland Collier ’81; and Kay and Roland M. Toups.
New Father Jean-Pierre Medaille Society member Dorren Schmitt was recognized.
Members of the Legacy Society in attendance were also thanked. They were Gail Gaiennie ’66, Jo Ellen Kearny ’67, Kristy Roubique ’76 and Dorren K. Schmitt.
SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen recognized former recipients of the Outstanding Alumnae award in attendance, including Suzie Toups Adler ’85; Grace Guttner Anderson ’69; Kathleen Plaisance Balhoff ’66; Kellie Michelli Barton ’86; Lorna Bourg ’60; Lisa Westmoreland Collier ’81; Elaine DeFrances Ellis ’65; Rose DeJohn Fife ’72; Ann Felice Fourrier ’69; Elise Gauthier Fryou ’57; Debbie Kleinpeter Gelpi ’77; Jo Ellen Kearny ’67; Sharon Ourso Kleinpeter ’67; Dorothy Bowers McCaughey ’64; Andrea Clesi McMakin ’74; Barbara McManus ’66; Kathy Daigre Meares ’64; and Kristy Roubique ’76.
Tribute videos were played to introduce Outstanding Alumnae Rene Richard Waldrop ’89, Lasharndra Lotten Barbarin ’91 and Allyson Quijano ’99 as well as Kay and Roland Toups, the recipients of the 2022 Spirit of SJA Award.
Sister Chris Pologa, CSJ led the closing prayer.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine