On January 21, 2023, St. Mary’s Dominican High School hosted the FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier for nineteen teams competing to earn a qualifying spot in the upcoming State Championship. Dominican’s two robotics teams, Team #9637 Dominican Ultraviolet and Team #11526 Dominican Valkyries, competed at the competition and placed sixth and sixteenth, respectively. After the normal gameplay ended, the teams divided into four alliances for final elimination matches. During these matches, the highest-ranking teams serve as captains of the alliances. Team #9637 Dominican Ultraviolet became one of the four alliance captains, ranking the team fourth overall in the competition. After all gameplay ended, the winner was announced, and the teams attended an awards ceremony. The awards are based on a variety of topics that the team must present to the judges at the beginning of the competition. After giving a presentation and creating an engineering portfolio, teams are judged on topics like problem-solving, the engineering and programming process of the robot, and how the team reached out to others to spread the FIRST and STEM message in their community. Team #9637 Dominican Ultraviolet won first place in the Control category, second in the Connect category, and third in the Inspire category, which gave the team a qualifying spot at the state championship.
“We represented Dominican, placing fourth overall. Our team were women in stem with our robot featuring a linear slide. We had grace and God on our side! During the matches, we played with gracious professionalism and had lots of fun.” – Aya Elmadah
“My team worked extremely hard together following the last competition, and we are extremely proud of both our progress and our robot. We did quite well, placing 6th in gameplay and 3rd overall. I’m looking forward to the championship!” – Charlotte Raymond
Written by Emma Plaisance; Edited by Cadence Jackson
Hola! Bonjour! Salve! Whichever you prefer, at Dominican we say all three.
Dominican provides students with the opportunity to learn Spanish, French, Latin and Greek. Within those languages, there are many activities a student can take part in such as being involved in language clubs, taking national tests and going to exciting conventions.
The Foreign Language department provides a variety of activities – both inside and outside of the classroom – for students to enrich their language learning journeys at school. Dominican’s language clubs take the work done in class into a lifestyle perspective.
Those students who take Spanish or are simply interested in the Spanish culture can join Dominican’s Spanish Club. “The mission of the Spanish Club is to bring awareness of the Hispanic culture and language to our DHS community,” said Mrs. Claudia Vallejo, Spanish teacher and Spanish Club moderator.
Junior Alexis Tran, a Spanish Club officer, and her fellow officers organize activities throughout the year to reflect this mission. This includes celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and organizing one of the most exciting events that Spanish Club has to offer: their annual picnic or fiesta with Hispanic food.
Spanish Club has not only had great activities to offer but it also provides a community for those who are interested in this language. “My favorite thing about the club is how diverse it is,” said Tran. “I’ve met some of my closest friends in the Spanish Club.”
For the students that prefer crêpes over churros, Dominican also offers a French Club along with its French classes. Like the Spanish Club, the French Club aspires to bring some French culture to St. Mary’s Hall.
“The mission of the club is to celebrate and explore some of the best parts of French language and culture: the holidays, the food, the traditions, and the music. We have access to some great French desserts and cheese in New Orleans,” said Madame Joan Rupp, French teacher and French Club moderator, “and students need to try it all!”
The French Club celebrates Canada Day, Cheese Tasting, Crepe Day, Mardi Gras, Le Noel (Christmas) and L’Halloween. “Students should join French Club because it’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about the language and culture. Even students who don’t take French can still join the club as long as they appreciate the culture and want to learn more about it,” said junior Sydney Raymond.
For those students who are interested in Latin and would like to seize the day, or carpe diem, Dominican has Junior Classical League, fondly abbreviated as JCL. “The purpose of JCL is to promote the love of ancient Greek and Roman culture and language,” said Dr. Wayne Rupp, Latin teacher and JCL moderator. Unlike the Spanish and French Clubs, to be a JCL member, a student must have taken a Latin, Greek or a class dedicated to Classical Civilization. JCL is a club for those who truly love the classics. Members attend a variety of events put on by the state chapter such as Fall Forum, State Convention and a regional Certamen, which is a Latin, Greek, and Mythology quiz bowl, according to Rupp.
Sophomore Olivia Casserino, President of JCL, said being in JCL feels like being part of a family. “I love being able to closely work with my fellow officers and doctor up to make the club a really fun place to be. JCL is a place where you can truly be yourself” said Casserino.
Dr. Rupp loves the club so much because of the students’ enthusiasm. “I didn’t take Latin in high school, so I missed out on this club. I love all the people who come together both in our chapter and at convention because we share love for the ancients,” he said.
It is no secret that foreign language is an exciting activity to get involved with at Dominican. There are so many different events that a student can take part in, and the community is very enthusiastic.
Until next year, Adiós! Au revoir! Vale! The foreign language clubs at Dominican hope to see you soon!
Being in a house all day surrounded by homework and distractions can be stressful. Some of the Dominican community focuses on a place where the stress melts away – the kitchen. With a recipe for success, DHS students and faculty have dished out happiness at home.
Out of the many recipes junior Allie Koenig has tried during quarantine, her favorite is her Mushroom Rosemary Risotto. This dish is vegetarian, which means there is no animal meats included. For Koenig, preparing her own dish “makes me happy when I get to share my food with others.” Koenig’s love for cooking and baking came from watching her dad cook. She said that she was always fascinated by the process and wanted to help with his next culinary masterpiece.
Allie’s Mushroom Rosemary Risotto
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (more or less depending on your preference)
2 cup mushrooms
1 tablespoon rosemary (fresh or dried)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Garlic powder (to taste) 2 cups rice
1 cup parmaesan cheese, grated
In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and rosemary and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pot and set aside.
In the same pot, add a little more olive oil and the rice. Toast the rice over medium heat until the rice is lightly brown (about 2 minutes). Add a cup of the broth to the rice at a time and stir. Add another cup once the previous cup has absorbed into the rice. The rice should be al dente and you might not have to put all of the broth.
Add in the mushroom mixture and stir. Also add in the parmesan. Add garlic powder and whatever other seasonings you desire. Serve risotto warm and garnish with rosemary or parsley.
Freshman Madeline Pourciau recreated one of her favorite Jazz Fest specialties, crawfish enchiladas. She enjoys making Prejean’s Famous Crawfish Enchiladas because “incorporating different cultures into dishes is amazing when the different flavors and ideas are put together.” Pourciau has grown up around many cooks in her family, but her father has especially inspired her. He taught her the ways around a kitchen and has made cooking a great way for her to handle stress. She finds many of her favorite recipes in the many cookbooks that have passed on to her from generations. Pourciau even has an Instagram page that inspires followers. Anyone can go to @nolagoodeats to enjoy her epicurean tips. Clink the link to get Pourciau’s favorite crawfish enchilada recipe: https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/474694388/prejeans-famous-crawfish-enchiladas/
After watching her mother cook for years, eighth grader Layah Cavett has turned to the kitchen during her spare time in quarantine. Cavett finds being in the kitchen comforting because of “the experience of becoming independent and trying new things on my own.” In addition to having a special love for Spanish and Italian cuisine, Cavett’s favorite recipe from her time at home was a chocolate cake. She especially enjoys the prep work before her baking. While doing prep work, she listens to music, gets out her ingredients out and mixes up some fun.
Classic Chocolate Cake
2/3 cup butter, softened
1-2/3 cups sugar 3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt 1-1/3 cups whole milk
Confectioners’ sugar or favorite frosting
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating until smooth after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13×9-in baking pan.
Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. When cake is cool, dust with confectioners’ sugar or frost with your favorite frosting.
English teacher Ms. Charlene Ford has also taken to the kitchen while teaching from home. Ms. Ford makes vegan dishes that avoid all animal products, which can make baking extra tricky. However, using no real butter, eggs, or dairy products has proven to be no challenge for Ms. Ford’s Blueberry Banana Bread. Since banana bread does not require yeast and is an easily prepared dish, it has become one of Ms. Ford’s quarantine essentials.
“I love the scent of baking and the sweet smell that permeates the house,” said Ms. Ford. “I can hardly wait for it to come out of the oven, and I certainly don’t let the instructed time pass before cutting in and having a taste!”
Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadBased on recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
Plant-based Butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the loaf pan 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed to yield about 3/4 cup of mashed banana
1 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh blueberries
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries.
Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours.
Doing things online has become the new normal for the students of St. Mary’s Dominican High School. Electing the representatives for next year’s school year has been no different.
Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Student Council Executive Board: President Allie Koenig, Vice President Kate Nolan, Secretary Grace Hamblin and Treasurer Carrie Madden.
In addition, congratulations to junior Kate Thomson, sophomore Catherine Kerion, freshman Lily Stricker and eighth grader Grace Koenig – students selected as Class Coordinators to lead their grades next year.
Election time has come and gone, and the people of DHS have spoken!
This year’s election was unlike anything the school had seen before due to Home Learning. On April 17, 2020, candidates submitted videos online, instead of the traditional way of presenting speeches in front of the student body in the Siena Gym. The students received a link that accessed the videos over Microsoft Teams.
“Our E-Board speeches, elections, and running through the halls tradition are among our most exciting traditions at DHS,” said Mrs. Jessica Sita Couch (’05), special projects director and student council moderator. “But, since that could not be done this year, we had to think outside of the box.”
From April 20 to April 24, 2020 the student body submitted an online form ballot choosing their favored candidates. This process has made voting not only easy but green.
Just as in years past, outgoing E-Board members announced the winners … but this year via video. Beginning with the traditional words, “One year ago, I sat in my desk waiting for my name to be called,” current E-Board members announced their successors.
“I was very nervous the night before I could barely sleep. When I found out I won, I was very excited and a little shocked,” said Koenig, “I told my sister, who was in the room with me, then I called my mom and friends to share the good news.”
Without missing a beat, the newly elected E-Board members began brainstorming for next year, putting their best foot forward.
These students will use their previous experience from Student Council to not only run meetings but also ensure that the student body has the best year possible. Their goal is to make sure that all students feel welcomed to participate in school activities.
On May 4, 2020, using the same campaign and election format, DHS elected their grade level coordinators. The coordinators work alongside the E-Board and student council reps to plan activities among grade levels and organize Rally Day for their class.
“I have ideas to do more Color Challenges and fun games involving other grades during long lunch and homeroom time to make the days exciting,” said Stricker.
“With so many girls in a class, it’s important that all voices are heard,” said Mrs. Robyn Miltenberger, junior faculty coordinator, “The grade level coordinator becomes the voice for the students in her grade. She combines the efforts and ideas of the members of student council and the class, strengthening the grade.”
Just like most activities during Home Learning, Student Preacher applications moved online.
Students applying to represent Dominican in one of its most fundamental ways, through prayer, submitted an online questionnaire, followed by an online interview.
Congratulations to newly selected Student Preachers: sophomores Monica Cabes, Corinne Lobell, Holly Rantz and Jenna Thomas.
These new Student Preachers have joined returning preachers juniors Gracie Bott, Aria Dody, Isabelle Fitzmorris and Sara Sciortino in sharing daily prayer videos with the Dominican community. These reflections last no more than a minute and thirty seconds but leave the student body refreshed because they have started their day with God.
“I am excited for every opportunity I have been blessed with,” said Lobell. “I hope to spread my gifts and my faith life to my fellow Dominican Sisters, encouraging them do grow in their connection with God, which will give them the security of peace, love, and happiness.”
These students bring not only their faith life to the table but also many new ideas to encourage other students to get involved in their faith life.
“I hope to make my Student Preacher role interactive, such as asking others what their favorite Bible quotes are, or what they would like to pray for especially. I want to make sure that the afternoon reflections are for our community, yet personal,” said Rantz.
Student Preachers are an important part of Dominican and its culture, according to Vice President of Dominican Catholic Identity, Mrs. Jill Curry Cabes (’87), Student Preacher moderator. The students selected work hard to ensure that every student feels loved and a connection to God.
“I feel as though it’s so important for our Dominican school community to have a group of student preachers because preaching is such an essential aspect of the Dominican tradition,” said Mrs. Cabes, “We are part of the Order of Preachers and no matter our age we all have gifts that God has given us that we can share with those around us.”
Dominican is in good hands with these student leaders.
The senior leaders of 2019-2020 staff of The Star have inspired not only their fellow reporters but their teacher as well.
Teaching journalism in Dominican’s Publications NP is a true joy of mine, and this year’s staff has reinforced that happiness. Leading this small but mighty cadre of reporters has been our two seniors: Morgan Muscarello and Gloria Thomas.
Gloria had brought her past experience in journalistic writing with her to the staff of The Star. She has also brought her kind spirit and loving heart. Along with the warm and friendly tone she brings to her writing, Gloria has a keen nose for news. More importantly, Gloria has never hesitated to share her ideas and gifts with her fellow reporters. She has also taken the lead in class discussions, whether in person or online.
In addition to her role as a reporter for The Star, Gloria has served Dominican in multiple capacities. She is a member of student council, Retreat Team, and Students for Human Dignity and Diversity in Action. Her kind heart, faith, and dedication to her school community are impressions Gloria has left wherever she has gone.
Junior Isabelle Fitzmorris appreciates getting to know these seniors in the tightly-knit Publications classroom. “Morgan and Gloria are such wonderful friends! They always know made feel better when I was stressed about a writing a story or making a deadline,” said Isabelle. “They could make me laugh. I loved working on stories and taking pictures with them throughout the school year.”
I have been very fortunate to get to know Gloria as my student this year. In addition, I’ve been blessed to know Morgan since she was a middle-schooler at Dominicamp. She matriculated from being my camper to being my junior counselor, sharing her talents with the tweens who spent the summer on Walmsely. Eventually, Morgan became my student as a sophomore in English III and, finally, as a senior in Publications.
Working on her next piece for The Star has been a role Morgan has embraced this year. Like Gloria, Morgan has taken the lead in brainstorming sessions, on-line discussion boards, and classroom peer edit exercises. And don’t be fooled by Morgan’s calm demeanor. She carries with her the strength of her convictions and faith, as evidenced by her role as co-president of Dominican’s Pro-Life Club.
Morgan stepped up to represent Dominican and our journalism class at the 2020 District Literary Rally in February. One to always put her best effort forward, Morgan placed at Rally and qualified to go to the State Rally. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans for the remainder of this school year, and the State Rally was not held.
The Star staff agrees that Morgan and Gloria have naturally welcomed their positions as leaders.
“Whenever I was stressed, Morgan and Gloria would always be there to talk,” said Star staffer and junior Olivia Olson. “They offered good advice as seniors and are both such kind souls. I will miss them so much in Publications class because they both brought so much joy to me as well as others. Not only are they both incredibly smart and talented, but they are also so compassionate and fun to be around.”
Junior Lindsey Foles also appreciates the generosity and friendship of Morgan and Gloria. “Even if they were struggling with their own work, they would put themselves aside to help us out,” said Lindsey. “And I really learned so much from their impeccable ability to help us see a different perspective on our stories.”
In a normal year, the Publications class celebrates the seniors in person. We hug, we sing, we eat baked treats (a Dominican student tradition) and we cry.
I will cry alone this year. I will cry tears of sadness because I miss my students, and I will cry tears of joy because I know these young women. Thank you for your leadership, Morgan Muscarello and Gloria Thomas.
Ms. Kristin Thomas, English teacher and moderator of The Star
As new online adventures begin, many students are finding ways creative ways to bring school… home.
No more track practice? That’s not a problem for eighth grader Grace Koenig. Koenig has found that while running around her neighborhood may not come with the same experiences as running around the track, it gets the job done and leaves her feeling a little better about quarantine and home learning.
Koenig has found that home learning allows her to work at her own pace and put more effort into her work; however, it’s not the same as being at Dominican. “I miss working with the teachers in class and eating lunch with my friends,” said Koenig.
Since home learning started, she has learned how to be positive and work around any difficulties she has during online school. Koenig transfers that same mentality into her life.
When she’s not doing schoolwork or exercising on her yoga mat, Koenig enjoys talking to friends over text and facetime, watching Netflix and playing games with her family and pets.
Jumping right into the new swing of online learning, senior Ally Firmin has found many new ways to keep herself occupied while quarantined.
From daily walks with her family to sleeping in late, Ally takes advantage of home learning.
“I wake up around ten now. My sister is home from college, and my mom is home. I appreciate the time I spend with family even more,“ said Firmin.
An avid athlete, Firmin was devastated to learn about an end to softball season.
“I was really upset in the beginning, but my teammates and coaches have been there for me,” said Firmin. “They uplift my spirits and that has definitely helped.”
While there have been new advantages to home learning, Ally realizes how home learning has meant less contact with friends and teachers.
“Not being with classmates and friends is tough,” said Firmin. “However, I try to stay connected with my friends through video calls and texting.”
Junior Aria Dody misses wearing her red sweater every day with her junior class. The experience of social distancing has given Dody a new outlook on life: how much she loves school.
“It has been hard knowing that my cheerleading team won’t get to perform one last time, but it has helped knowing that I am not alone in missing out,” said Dody.
A fun pastime that is getting Dody through is Just Dance. Because the members of her family are avid Just Dancers, they dance at least twice a day. Dody’s favorite dances are any set to the music by One Direction, but her all-time favorite is “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco. In addition to her family’s best pastime, Dody has started to relearn tunes on her guitar as a way to unwind.
Dody has adjusted her prayer schedule to fit in between completing schoolwork, playing Just Dance and strumming on her guitar. She has found different ways to be in the presence of God and shares her faith through her Student Preacher virtual prayers. The prayers come to Dody when she is reading scripture or while sitting and listening to her prayer playlist.
Although sophomore Emily Anding is not able to see her friends every day like she used to, she keeps the connection alive through a screen.
Anding helps cope with missing out on school activities by having online chats with her fellow members of Students for Human Dignity and Diversity in Action on their usual club days. During their chats, they all discuss ways to adjust to quarantine and how it has been working out for each of them.
Getting accustomed to home learning has been sometimes challenging for this Dominican sophomore. Anding said that when working from home, “I tend to get a little more distracted since I have plenty of free time on my hands.”
It is easy to waste valuable day time by lounging the day away, but Anding had other plans in mind. With all her free time, Anding took on a hobby of crocheting and going on walks to stay active.
Spending more time at home has allowed freshman Annette Haynie to explore her passions. As a member of the Liturgical Music Ministers and Drama Club, Annette has been keeping herself busy with her artistic talents.
“I like to listen to music, draw and play piano or sing to take up my time,” she said. Annette enjoys her art classes at school, so continuing her drawings at home has allowed her to keep the creative juices flowing.
One of Annette’s favorite things about quarantine has been sleeping in and having more time to relax in general. “My favorite way to unwind is to put on my headphones and either sit on my porch or go rollerblading,” she said. Annette has truly taken her time away from school and used it as a way to enjoy the things she loves.
Junior Jordyn Taylor is no stranger to relaxing during these new QuaranTeen times.
Whether outside sunbathing on the porch or watching Netflix, relaxation after working is a must for Jordyn.
“My favorite way to unwind at home has to be watching my favorite movie, Moana, on Netflix,” said Taylor.
Jordyn says home learning allows her to be more flexible with her time. “I wake up when I want and do my work when I want,” said Taylor.
However, being in the last group of juniors to experience Junior Retreat was a tough miss for Jordyn. “I missed out on reteat, and I have yet to cope with it,” said Taylor. “All of my other classmates got to experience retreat, I didn’t.”
Yet, spending time with family puts a patch on sad misfortunes.
“We go on two walks a day and even play card games,” said Taylor.
Eighth grader Meredith Kononchek tries to find the positives of learning at home. She likes being able to create her own schedule and spend more time with her family, especially her little sister and brother. In fact, her family goes outside and plays baseball together almost every day. Even though she enjoys spending more time with her family, Kononchek misses her extracurricular activities.
“I miss my friends from band, student council and robotics, ” said Konocheck. Even when she is down about missing her friends, Kononchek remembers not to take anything for granted. Home learning has made her appreciate the fact that she attends Dominican and has met so many great people.
Aside from schoolwork, Kononchek has created a new prayer schedule. Every morning, she and her mom watch daily Mass online. She misses attending Mass at St. Pius X with her family and altar serving.
A new skill Kononchek is learning during this social distancing is cooking. Because her parents are also working from home, she is learning how to cook and has started to prepare meals for her family. “Some were definitely better than others,” she said. The best meals she has made so far are spaghetti and meatballs and pulled pork sandwiches. She even learned how to bake a cake.
Senior Emma Fitch tries to make the best out of the final days of her senior year at home.
During Fitch’s quarantine, she especially misses her senior activities and spending some of her last days of high school with her friends. Events like senior prom and
To stay active, Fitch does a circuit workout that also doubles as an assignment for Health and PE class. She also walks her dog at least once a day to keep her entertained as well.
One of the struggles she has faced is the difficulty of learning when she cannot communicate with her teachers face to face. Fortunately, having access to messaging her teachers and classmates any time during the day helps when in need of a consult.
Looking at the bright side, Fitch sees this as an opportunity to find your own schedule. Fitch said, “It’s a great preview of college and how much freedom we will have with our time.”
Ninth grader Izzy Tran has become a student-turned-teacher during this period of home learning. Because her parents’ work is considered essential, Tran watches her younger brother and teaches him his lessons, while maintaining her own classwork and chores.
Tran misses spending time with her friends and being in a classroom, but this prompted her friend group to find new ways to communicate. Some nights, her friends have virtual trivia nights. Each girl creates questions about herself, and the others answer to see who knows that friend best.
As a way to stay active, Tran has started to bike more, and she attends a virtual dance class during the week. Tran admits that the dance classes are different but still fun and a good way to get active
Coco Ondrusek has been making the best of her quarantine. As a junior, Coco loves to be involved in robotics, art, and horseback riding. Since her horseback riding lessons have been canceled, she has taken her exercise regime to the park. “For exercise, I run around Audubon Park and work out at home,” she said.
Coco has stayed productive during this time which has allowed her lots of free time. “I like having school at home so I can have the rest of the day to do whatever I want,” Coco said. “To unwind, I love to work on my art, paint and draw.”
As much as Coco has enjoyed the time to herself, she understands the unfortunate way COVID-19 has impacted the world. An important thing to Coco and her family is remaining prayerful during this troubling time and they say the rosary every night after dinner to pray for everyone affected by COVID-19.
Now that home learning is the new normal, eighth grader Amie Lewis is spending more time with her brother …and not her human brother.
Learning more day by day, Lewis has taken up sewing as a hobby and is using the Brother JX2517 sewing machine.
“Now more than ever, we need face coverings,” said Lewis. “So, I sewed some face masks for my mom and me.”
Along with picking up a new hobby, Amie says home learning has come with lots of advantages. “I make a schedule that fits to the time I wake up,” said Lewis.
Missing all of her friends and techers, Lewis says focusing is sometimes a disadvantage to working at home.
“I definitely miss seeing all my friends and teachers at school,” said Lewis. “The lack of human contact is hard to adjust to.”
However, to keep her mind off things, Lewis exercises to cheer herself up. “I do a ten minute cardio at home workout and it helps big time,” said Lewis.
Freshman Anne Harduoin is keeping herself busy during her not-so-busy quarantine life.
Every day, Harduoin tries to wake up around the same time, do her schoolwork and then do leisure activities when she is done. Making sure to wake up before noon and completing all schoolwork before vegging out is key to staying on top of her work.
Even when Harduoin is done with school work, she is often left completely bored and missing practices with her volleyball team. Luckily, her sister, junior Elizabeth Harduoin, is the perfect gal to play volleyball with and help cope with the lack of practice.
During this time of home learning, Harduoin especially appreciates her “teachers and their lessons and the time spent with her friends.” It is times like these when she remembers to never take her access to a great school community for granted.
In February, the students of St. Mary’s Dominican collected nearly 30,000 cans for Second Harvest Food Bank for the school’s 21st Annual Canned Food Drive.
This year, the students donated a record-breaking total of 29,961 cans which will provide over 18,700 meals to the hungry.
“I am so proud of our girls for participating,” said Ms. Aline Delgado, religion teacher. “The canned food drive is about more than bringing in canned foods. It’s about raising awareness for those who experience hunger.”
Every spring, Dominican donates to Second Harvest to help families in the greater New Orleans area. “Dominican does an incredible job with motivating the students to bring in good, hearty and nutritious donations,” said Ms. Emily Slazer, Second Harvest’s food sourcing manager.
Dominican is one of the largest school contributors in the greater New Orleans area to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank. Each year, Dominican students work to increase the amount of food they have donated to Second Harvest in previous years.
“Since 2019, Dominican donated an additional 22,497 pounds of food since their last donation!” said Ms. Slazer.
According to Second Harvest, one in five households are at risk of hunger and the rising cost of food and other hardships have increased the need for help across Louisiana.
“Food is a cornerstone for a healthy life. Without food, you can’t function,” said Ms. Slazer.
The annual food drive exemplifies the Dominican commitment to the pillars of service and community. As a school, the students were encouraged to bring in canned foods to meet the goal of 20,000 cans. Exceeding the goal, students were excited about their achievement.
Senior Hallie Mathern, a member of Campus Ministry, gained a sense of fulfillment when working on the food drive.
“Working with Second Harvest allowed me see the people affected and made me more motivated to serve those in need, ” said Mathern. “I had a feeling to want to help everyone.”
In February, five Dominican seniors left New Orleans behind as they headed to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Close Up program.
Seniors Tessa Paul, Celeste Patron, Jennifer Yrle, Sara Miller and Alexandra LaNasa saw monuments, museums and memorials during their time in D.C. “It was interesting to see that our government really hasn’t changed that much over all of these years,” said Paul.
Through Close Up, high school seniors from all across the United States see first-hand how the government works. Since 1971, nearly 100,000 students have participated in this initiative. By bringing students from across the country together, Close Up shows attendees how to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world
“This trip allows students who already have a grasp on Civics to better understand our government’s public policies and how those policies affect people differently,” said Mr. Randy Duplantis, history teacher and trip coordinator.
On the trip, students participated in seminars and workshops. The experience taught LaNasa and Yrle to be more open-minded and to listen to what others have to say. “This trip was definitely an eye-opener for me; hearing all sides of issues shifted some of my opinions for the better,” said Yrle.
One of the activities Close Up participants attended was a mock Congress. The students debated each side of an issue and judges picked lobbyists to present their side to the other the group. Other workshops dealt with topics such as the environment, criminal justice, immigration, and more.
In addition to attending seminars and workshops, the students explored government buildings: in particular, the Supreme Court building and the Capitol. They also sat in the Old Senate Chamber, where senators vote.
On one of their tours through a government building, the girls spoke with two members of Louisiana State Representative Cedric Richmond’s team and talked with a representative of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy. They also heard from Louisiana’s other senator, Dr. Bill Cassidy.
While Senator Cassidy was addressing Louisiana students, he told them that one day, one of them could be in his shoes. Hearing this excited Miller. “It made me realize that every little experience we have is integral in shaping who we will become and how we will impact the world,” she said.
Ms. Anne Comisky, trip moderator, agrees with Miller. “Meeting with the legislative staff members gave the girls a chance to ask questions concerning issues that are important to them,” she said.
Being on this trip as a chaperone brought back great memories for Dominican’s Recruitment Director Ms. Elyse Harrison (’13) who attended Close Up during her senior year. This trip was different for her because, as a chaperone, she saw more than just the “must see” places in D.C. “On the day we were all together, we got to ride on the special train under Capitol Hill that’s usually for Congress members only,” said Ms. Harrison.
Because Close Up is open to the entire country, some of the DHS girls’ roommates were from other states, such as Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan. “It was really cool being with people from other states because everyone has different opinions, and I learned a lot,” said Miller.
All of the girls agree that one of the best parts of the trip were their bus rides through the country’s capital city. “The bus rides allowed us to bond with other people on the trip and learn at the same time,” said Paul. On the rides, students talked about the places they had just visited and their opinions on government matters. The girls loved talking with their new friends and sharing their thoughts with the group.
“If you are questioning on whether or not to go on Close Up,” said LaNasa, “definitely go and bring comfy walking shoes!”