St. Joseph’s Academy juniors received their school rings during the 2022 Ring Ceremony, held May 6 in the Academy Student Center. The class of 2023 and their parents gathered for the traditional event, which commemorates the juniors’ three years at SJA and marks the point at which they make the transition to their senior year.
Principal Stacia Andricain welcomed the large gathering and introduced guest alumna speaker Mathilde Silverberg, SJA class of 2012, who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2016 with a degree in anthropology and a double minor in art history and public health. She earned her master of public health degree in global health and now works for the Louisiana Public Health Institute on the Policy and Equity team.
Silverberg shared some thoughts she had as a 17-year-old junior at her Ring Ceremony and how they have played out in the 10 years since she graduated. She urged the juniors to accept that there is life beyond the walls of SJA and to bring the things they love about SJA with them, wherever life may lead.
She said that life is constantly evolving and changing. “It’s okay to not know exactly how your life is going to play out or even your senior year, because … we ultimately are not the ones in control,” she said. “What I do believe we are in control of is how we respond to what might come our way in life and might shape your senior year.”
Silverberg shared a quote from Erma Bombeck that she had included in her Ring Ceremony speech as junior class president: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’”
She said she hopes the juniors will use their talents and gifts in ways that serve others and help them grow. “And when the time comes for you to leave SJA, you continue to use those God-given talents,” she said. “Use the people here – the faculty, staff, your peers and friends – to help you discover your gifts and talents and share those talents with them this last year.”
Alexandra Funes read from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Ashlyn Rainey read a message entitled Journey Through Life. Leading the prayers of the faithful were Camille Kleinpeter, Caitlyn Rogers, Ella Fife and Molly Ritter.
Jennifer Nguyen, junior class president, presented the class accomplishments, reflecting on the challenges and successes to date. “When we accept our rings tonight, let us think of the transformation we’ve had from freshman year, and let us embrace the year ahead of us,” she said. “Let’s build on the foundation we’ve created so far. Let’s cherish these moments, live day by day and truly enjoy every minute we have left at this home away from home. Create memories, get to know all of your classmates and take advantage of all the great opportunities here at SJA.
“Let’s be servant leaders to the whole SJA community,” Nguyen added. “Rise to the challenge of leaving a lasting legacy and leaving the school even better than we found it. This is an incredible group of women for others. Take your ring, wear it with pride, use all God has given you and look forward to being the best senior class we can possibly be.”
Gillian Sawyer explained the rich symbolism of the school ring, which is offered in two designs: the traditional black onyx and the red barrel stone. SJA Pastoral Care Minister Sister Chris Pologa, CSJ, blessed the rings, and Dean of Academics Aubrey DeJohn called forth each junior to receive her ring from Andricain.
Ava Kathryn Nesbit led the closing prayer.
Txell Alcubierre Sellés, an exchange student from Spain, offered a special farewell, as she will return home at the end of the academic year. “I’ve grown up academically but also as a person,” she said. “I’ve learned things here that no other school could teach. Despite how amazing an experience has been, there almost always comes a time to move on, a time to let go. And regardless of the letting go, I just wanted y’all to know that y’all are always going to feel a little bit like home to me. No matter how temporary, it is still beautiful that I got to call so many hearts my home.
“Thank you to my family, my host family and SJA’s administration, teachers and students for making this experience one of the best I’ve ever had and that I will remember for the rest of my life,” she added. “Now I have to say goodbye, with a heart that aches but also with a soul full of laughs, love and memories. Have the best senior year ever, and do not forget me.”
Shobe Manuel invited the juniors to participate in the traditional turning of the rings. Neely Rispone led the singing of the Alma Mater.
Danielle Laird directed the freshmen and sophomore members of the choir, and Aimee Urdiales was the pianist.
Junior class co-moderators Katie Comeaux and Brooke Haigler were the Ring Ceremony coordinators.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos by Jennifer M. Fontaine