The sounds of mistletones and jingle bells are resounding through the halls at DHS this holiday season. From frolicking in the first snow in New Orleans since 2008 to pictures with Santa in Alumnae Hall, students are preparing for a jolly Christmas.
For many, the Christmas season brings treasured memories and traditions to life. From watching their favorite Christmas movies to baking cookies with their families, the faculty and students of Dominican shared some of their favorite aspects of Christmas.
“Every seven minutes and fourteen seconds, someone is injured due to a car crash, and every twelve hours, someone dies due to a car crash injury.”– Sudden Impact.
These facts were brought to life in the Sudden Impact program, which focuses on teen injury prevention. Executed by University Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center and the Louisiana State Police, this powerful program focuses on motor vehicle safety while illustrating the consequences of distracting driving.
Learning how to be safe on the road is vital. It’s especially relevant for new drivers – such as Dominican sophomores – who are learning to master the rules of the road.
Each Dominican sophomore participates in Sudden Impact by spending a day immersed in the program. Throughout the first semester, sophomore homerooms traveled to University Medical Center and Touro Hospital to participate in this 7-hour long program.
The entirety of the Sudden Impact program includes the day-long presentation once a year as well as a mock crash and a mock trial every three years. Dominican began participating in this program in 2009. According to Dean of Students Ms. Sheri Salvagio (’84), Sudden Impact at DHS has been very effective.
“I believe we should be proactive in giving the students the knowledge they deserve to have in order to make smart decisions,” said Ms. Salvagio.
During the Sudden Impact presentation, students learned about current state laws as well as ways to avoid distractions while driving. To emphasize the importance of auto safety, the presentation also included real life scenarios of Louisiana students injured in automobile crashes due to distracted or drunk driving. They also heard the stories of victims of fatal car crashes who did not live to tell their stories.
One victim who did live to share her story was Ms. Ashlee Stokes. In 2008, Ms. Stokes was severely injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. Ms. Stokes suffered a serious brain injury due to the collision. Ashlee, along with her father Mr. David Stokes, made a surprise appearance at the UMC Sudden Impact program. Together, they shared Ashlee’s story to teach others about the consequences of drunk and distracted driving.
Mr. Stokes shared his daughter’s thoughts and told the students to “make a difference.” He stressed the importance that even in a bad situation, there’s always a positive outcome that can be made.
The Stokes family put these words into action when they began a program called Ashlee’s Angels Designated Driver Service. This non-profit organization, with the help of family, friends and volunteers, picks up people who need a safe, sober ride home. The Stokes family continues to make a difference by sharing Ashlee’s story to inform others on how important it is to stay safe on the road.
The sophomores were astonished at the consequences of impaired driving. “We always think something like that can’t happen to us,” said Tai Sutherland. “It was really eye opening to see that bad things can happen to anyone.”
Ms. Bridget Gardner, RN, began the Sudden Impact program 19 years ago, and it has been successful ever since. The program has now reached 17 hospitals and over 100 schools throughout Louisiana.
“As presenters, our goal is that each teen learns a significant message to change a current high-risk behavior and reinforce a healthy decision when driving,” said Ms. Gardner.
“I was struck by how often these incidents happen,” said Sutherland. “Participating in this program definitely enlightened how I view road safety.”
The presenters at Sudden Impact emphasized the word “prevention.” They emphasized that it’s all about preventing bad things from happening. Sudden Impact is one of the best ways students can be informed on how to stay safe and prevent injuries.
- Kathryn Valldejuli
“What Was Your First Concert?”
Inquiring minds want to know more about DHS teachers’ initiation into the School of Rock. The Star staff did some investigative reporting to bring you the facts about the faculty’s first concerts.
Prom. Ring Day. Induction. Graduation – so many events run through the minds of seniors as they approach the “beginning of the end” of their high school journey.
However, seniors Alex Williams, and Sophie Ondrusek have additional events on their minds. They, along with six other DHS students, are Dominican Student Preachers. As Student Preachers, this team is tasked with inspiring creative initiatives within the school to lead others into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
Veteran preachers Ondrusek and Williams have the important role of leading their fellow preachers; seniors Caroline Bickerton, Molly Derbes, Abby Haydel, Meghan Rotolo; and juniors Ella Cheramie and Cappy Elvir.
As part of their commitment, the Dominican Student Preachers take on the responsibilities of teaching, preaching and spreading the word of God to the DHS community. The girls incorporate the four pillars of Dominican life – prayer, study, community and service – throughout their daily actions.
According to Mrs. Jill Cabes (’87), vice resident of Dominican Catholic Identity, the preachers have a very important role at Dominican. They must possess specific qualifications to obtain the special position. A preacher must be Catholic, a junior or senior and interested in deepening her Catholic faith. With these qualifications, preachers must also be dedicated to put hard work and time into their prayers and reflections.
Though the Student Preachers may be heard only once each day during afternoon prayer, the work they do behind the scenes is vital and continuous. The job of the student preachers is to incorporate prayer and study into their lives while teaching others to do the same. “The Student Preachers have the job of uniting the school through prayer and keep Dominican focused on God,” said Ondrusek.
While being a preacher is an honor, both Ondrusek and Williams agree it is still comes with everyday challenges. This past August, Ondrusek reflected on her challenges with public speaking at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. She explained to the student body how becoming a preacher has helped her to face that fear and conquer it completely.
The students also take what they learn as preachers and incorporate it into their everyday lives. “Before I became a Student Preacher, I could tell a part of me was missing,” said Williams. “Now, two parts of me – faith and individuality – come together, making me the person I am today.”
The role of the student preacher surpasses what the student body sees on the day to day basis. However, according to Derbes, the hard work is worth the effort.
“I recommend being a student preacher to others because you can share your faith and lead people closer to God,” said Derbes.
Preachers must incorporate a great amount of time and effort to prayer and study into their busy schedules. Over the summer, the girls attended the Dominican Preaching Conference in Adrian, Michigan. There, they met students from various Dominican schools and learned about the history of the Dominican Order of Preachers.
Throughout the school year, Student Preachers share their faith at multiple Dominican gatherings. At events such as Black & White Friday Night and Open House, the Student Preachers lead prayer and explain their role in the school. In early March, they will assist with the formation St. Joseph’s altar, and throughout the year, they write and share reflections with the Dominican community at Mass.
Keep an eye out for the preachers at Open House on October 19 in the Siena Center Gym.
- Inziya Magee
And now ladies and gentlemen, Louisiana State University proudly presents the Golden Band from Tiger Land!
This is the que for the 325 members of the LSU Marching Band to process out to the football field in their faultless lines to perform their carefully choreographed half time routine. This is the dream for many but achieved only by a few. For Julia Giacona (‘17), the path to LSU Band began when she first picked up a trumpet in fourth grade and was mentored in the Dominican Band.
Giacona’s passion for music and her Dominican Band background produced the perfect melody for her to earn a spot in the LSU Marching Band, but it took much hard work to get there. “I couldn’t be where I am today without Ms. Castillo and Dominican’s Band,” Giacona said. “By being in Dominican’s band, I was able to learn how to play trumpet, read music and march.”
With the guidance of Ms. Brenda Castillo, band director, Julia practiced tirelessly for her LSU Band audition. Ms. Castillo teaches her students “that if you work hard and smart you can do it.” Both Giacona and her mother, Dominican science teacher Mrs. Crissy Giacona, cite Ms. Castillo as having a “huge impact” on Giacona’s success.
This past summer, Giacona began the process of trying out to join the LSU Marching Band. The tryout consisted of an initial audition and then attending Tiger Band Camp. All of Giacona’s hard work finally paid off when she saw her name on the final list on the last day of LSU Band Camp. “I was proud of myself for accomplishing my goal.” said Giacona. “It wasn’t easy. I understood this was a college marching band and that not everyone who tried out would make it.
“So, when I heard that I had made the cut, I was ecstatic,” she added.
Making the team was just the first step in Giacona’s LSU Band experience. From that time on, the tempo picked up because she had her first practice within thirty minutes of finding out she had made the cut!
For the band, game day does not just start when the game does; it starts early in the morning. The Golden Band from Tigerland starts the day at the indoor football facility to rehearse pregame and halftime one last time. From there, per the LSU Game Day tradition, the band marches down Victory Hill to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and then to the stadium. Although Giacona thinks halftime is “amazing,” her favorite part of game days is pregame. “When we do the stadium salute, the crowd’s cheering echoes throughout the stadium, and it is an electrifying and incredible feeling,” Giacona said.
As if one Dominican Band alum in LSU Band was not great enough, there are two. Mallory DeLanzac (‘15) is also a member of the band. Upon hearing Giacona was planning to try out for band, DeLanzac became Giacona’s biggest cheerleader. This included introducing Giacona to the band director and teaching her the five basic marching steps. “Mallory taught me fundamentals for LSU’s marching,” said Giacona. “She also informed me about what I had to work on for the audition and was an amazing supporter.”
Ms. Castillo, Giacona’s and DeLanzac’s mentor, describes her former students as “persistent, determined and courageous.” In fact, Ms. Castillo gets emotional as she reflects on their accomplishments. “When they play, it gets to you,” said Ms. Castillo. “It’s very touching and rewarding.”
- Paige Dawson
Every graduating class at Dominican is full of talented students. Today, many alums of the Dominican stage still shine like stars in everything they do.
Ever since its foundation, the Drama Club has been shaping students to continue to follow their dreams of being on stage. Four women – Ms. Christian Tarzetti (’14), Mrs. Christy Hedlund Benoit (’06), Mrs. Lindsey Romig Price (’01), and Mrs. Liza Lagarde Salzer (’82) – are alums who give a toast of praise to Dominican for their success.
Performing in her fifth and final Dominican spring musical, Mrs. Christian Tarzetti (’14) wows the crowd in Hello, Dolly! Tarzetti was an active member of the Drama Club and portrayed Irene Molloy in the show for her senior year.
Ms. Christian Tarzetti (’14), was a five-year member of the Drama Club who starred as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly! in Dominican’s spring musicals. She went on to begin her first year of college at Loyola University while doing a year-long internship in Walt Disney World.
Since Ms. Tarzetti’s return from playing multiple Disney princesses in Disney World, she has starred as Jane in Tarzan the Musical, Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and Wendy in Peter Pan at two local community theatres, Rivertown and JPAS. Along with singing and dancing on stage, Tarzetti salutes the United States as a Victory Belle at the National WWII Museum.
“Being involved in the drama club at Dominican not only gave me experiences that I will remember forever but shaped me into the performer I am today,” said Ms. Tarzetti.
Some alums were more academically involved in high school and found their spotlight after graduating. DHS alum Mrs. Lisa Lagarde Salzer (’82) didn’t get a taste of performing on stage until her senior year in 1982 when she joined the singing group, Celebration! “When I joined Celebration!, I discovered my love for being on stage through singing at school gyms, nursing homes, Mardi Gras floats and even Superdome half time shows,” said Mrs. Salzer.
Though not in the Drama Club, Mrs. Salzer could be found at National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and student council meetings during her high school years. It wasn’t until as an adult that she began doing musical theatre at St. Luke’s Wing and a Prayer Productions.
After sending off her own children to college, “Hollywood South” presented Mrs. Salzer some opportunities to get involved in local movie, TV and commercial productions. She currently works as a regular stand-in for renowned actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange and Margot Robbie.
When asked to give advice to those interested in theatre, Mrs. Salzer said, “I encourage everyone, no matter your age or experience, to get off the sidelines if you’ve always wanted to, and join in the parade, show, or whatever production you desire because the rewards are tremendous and your opportunities to shine are limitless.”
One of the five pillars of Dominican, service, is a virtue that is practiced and taught through the students’ years here. Service has become a part of alum Mrs. Christy Hedlund Benoit’s (’06) life. Mrs. Benoit is the Development and Communications Director at Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre, a nonprofit organization that promotes classical and contemporary dance. She handles the fundraising and marketing efforts for the ballet, which includes writing grant proposals, planning special events and coordinating volunteers.
Mrs. Benoit began dancing at 5 years old and went on to perform in the spring musicals at Dominican eighth grade through senior year. Ms. Benoit earned a degree in Arts Administration after she witnessed cuts to arts programming while she was a student at LSU.
“I knew how much my arts education at Dominican shaped me as a performer, and I wanted to make sure others had access to those same experiences,” Mrs. Benoit said. Although most of her work is behind the scenes, Mrs. Benoit still takes class, teaches ballet to students, and even performs on occasion.
Some alums may not be on stage but are working behind the scenes to make a production magical. Mrs. Lindsay Romig (’01) is a choreographer who works with local community theaters and high schools, including Dominican’s Spring Musicals. At the University of New Orleans, Mrs. Price graduated with a masters in counselor education.
During her time at DHS, Mrs. Price was vice president of the E-board, a Dominican cheerleader and a Rally Day cheerleader. Mrs. Price was in the Drama Club and performed in all five of the spring musicals.
“Having never danced before, Dominican really brought me out of my shell,” Mrs. Price said. “It prepared me to go on and know that I can do anything I put my mind to.”
Mrs. Rosalie Abadie and Mrs. Marcia Peyton, ’78, have been inspiring and mentoring performers for more than 20 years. “We try our hardest to ensure that each student who joins the Drama Club walks out with memories that they will cherish forever,” Mrs. Peyton says, “It is a great experience to be a part of something like this in high school because it sets the foundation for the rest of a student’s life.
- Claire Dinwiddie
“My favorite memory is running to find my younger sister, Liz, on Ring Day so she could turn my ring!” – Sam Messonnier
Time at Dominican is ticking at a fast pace as the seniors approach exam week, prom and graduation. The excitement and anticipation is palpable during this time when the seniors savor their last days of being high school students.
Recently, The Star staff surveyed the Class of ’17 about some of their favorite memories.
Favorite Dance – Back to School Dance
Favorite Rally Theme – Disney Junior
Favorite Sage Menu Item – Sage Cookies
Favorite Read – The Great Gatsby