The St. Joseph’s Academy Board of Directors hosted The 1868 Dinner on October 11 at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel. The event honored Donor Society members, families and individuals establishing or endowing scholarships in the past two years and those who served in volunteer leadership capacities. SJA’s Outstanding Alumnae for 2021 – Elise Gauthier Fryou, class of 1957, and Kellie Michelli Barton, class of 1986 – were honored, as was Sister Joan Laplace, the 2021 Spirit of SJA Award recipient.
SJA Board Chair Shane Morrison 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 Kelly Sword Hurtado, class of 1981. Hurtado introduced the Sisters of St. Joseph in attendance, SJA’s administration and members of the Board of Directors.
A group of talented SJA vocalists, under the direction of Danielle Laird, sang the blessing and performed prior to dinner.
SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen ’69 discussed several areas of focus of the Academy’s new strategic plan, including facilities, faith development and behavioral health. She said thanks to its Endowed Scholarship program, the Academy is able to offer need-based assistance to 155 families who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the gift of a Catholic education.
Principal Stacia Andricain said she was grateful to the faculty and staff, who have worked tirelessly to provide a quality education to SJA students in the face of the pandemic. She pointed to 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 a record 142 AP Scholar Award winners for 2021 as well as six National Merit semifinalists and 10 commended students. She also outlined the accomplishments of SJA’s athletic teams and said Academy students enjoy 40 clubs and organizations that foster leadership, collaboration and fun.
Hurtado announced that seven new scholarships were established in the SJA Foundation during the past two years: the Walter L. Comeaux II Memorial Scholarship, Grace Morrison ’19 Scholarship, Katie Thompson ’16 Scholarship, Toni Silva Kirby ’80 Scholarship, SJA Mothers’ Club Scholarship, Carolyn Perkins Memorial Scholarship and the Francis and Sally Crifasi Family Scholarship. Another six scholarships were fully endowed during this time.
She also announced the establishment of SJA’s first endowed chair, which is a permanent fund established as part of SJA’s Endowment Program. The Andrea Clesi McMakin ’74 Endowed Chair for STEM has been established by her husband, Wally McMakin, and will provide opportunities for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines as well as additional training for faculty members.
Hurtado thanked the volunteer leadership of the SJA Annual Fund for the past two years: Lisa Westmoreland Collier ’81 and Kathy Daigre Meares ’64, Alumnae Annual Fund; Nan Murtagh and Pat O’Hara, Faculty/Staff Annual Fund; Janet and Kevin Talbot and Jennifer and Chip Jones, Friends Annual Fund; Linda Kron Marchand and Rose Marie and Johnny Fife, Grandparents Annual Fund; and Kathy and John D’Angelo and Gia and Marcus Mashon, 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. William Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Faulk, Mr. and Mrs. Todd Gerald, Mr. and Mrs. Jay Little and Mr. and Mrs. Lee Moreau; new 1868 Society members Mr. and Mrs. Rob Dille, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Greer Jr., Drs. Andrew and Jennifer Guidroz and Mr. and Mrs. Ron McDaniel; new Shield Society members Mr. and Mrs. John D’Angelo, Mr. and Mrs. Derek Fife and Mr. and Mrs. Scott Ritter; and new Heritage Society members Jan Rhorer Breen and Commerce Title.
Members of the Father Jean-Pierre Médaille Society in attendance were recognized and thanked. They were the late Frank Bologna, represented by Re and David Divincenti; the late Sister Carolyn Brady, CSJ ’48, represented by Sister Joan Laplace; Cajun Deep Foundation, represented by Mike Moran; Jo Cangelosi ’71; The Congregation of St. Joseph, CSJ Ministries and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, represented by the Sisters present; Elaine and Randy Ellis; Kean Miller Attorneys at Law, represented by Jennifer Thomas; the late D. Ben Kleinpeter, represented by Debbie Gelpi; Andrea and Wally McMakin; Anne and Tom Meek; Elizabeth and Thomas C. McKowen; Tami and Michael Moran; Sarah and Shane B. Morrison; Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, represented by Kellie Barton; the late Claude J. Patin, represented by Denise Patin Heroman; Beth and Will Pecue II; the SJA Alumnae Association; and the Milton J. Womack Foundation, represented by Milton Womack Jr.
Members of the Legacy Society in attendance were also thanked. They were Gail Gaiennie ’66, Dr. and Mrs. Tom J. Meek; Twana Michelli Pulliam ’84; Kristy Roubique ’76; and Dorren K. Schmitt.
Recognized for their commitment to the Academy community were Dads’ Club President Ron McDaniel, who is also chair of this year’s Sticker Scramble golf tournament on November 1; and Patricia Brignac Talbot ’84, co-chair of the 2019 SJA Tennis Classic and chair of this year’s tournament, set for late March.
SJA President Jan Rhorer Breen recognized former recipients of the Outstanding Alumnae award in attendance, including Eleanor Ball Bertrand ’56, Pat Lambert Brignac ’51, Maria “Re” Bologna DiVincenti ’71, Dr. Paula Bogan Drone '77, Elaine DeFrances Ellis ’65, Debbie Kleinpeter Gelpi ’77, Alice Dugas Greer ’66, Pat Carville Hoffman ’73, Sharon Ourso Kleinpeter ’67, Kathleen Alley Lovretich ’77, Dorothy Bowers McCaughey ’64, Andrea Clesi McMakin ’74, Barbara McManus ’66, Tara Nolan Messenger ’70, Kristy Roubique ’76, Dr. Liz Dauzat Seiter ’79, Sister Lucy Silvio ’59 and Patricia Brignac Talbot ’84.
Elise Gauthier Fryou ’57 and Kellie Michelli Barton ’86 were honored as this year’s Outstanding Alumnae, and Sister Joan Laplace was honored as the 2021 Spirit of SJA Award recipient.
Sister Chris Pologa, CSJ led the closing prayer.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine