Spending a day at Dominican is the best way to see the many faces of Dominican.
Dominican is walking down the hallway and laughing with friends about absolutely nothing. It is debating in English class whether or not Hamlet was truthful when saying, “To be or not to be.”
Dominican is a place where young women learn lessons, find truth and gain friends for life. By spending a day at Dominican, middle school girls learn about the many opportunities this high school can offer them.
The Spend-A-Day Program at St. Mary’s Dominican High School allows prospective students see what it is like to be a high school student. The visiting girls travel from class to class with their hosts and learn about the many different things that DHS has to offer.
Managing this program is Ms. Elyse Harrison (’13), recruitment director. She coordinates visits from the nearly 800 students who will spend a day at Dominican this academic year. Ms. Harrison pairs each Spend-A-Day student with a host who has similar interests. To make the middle schoolers feel special upon arriving on Walmsley Ave., Ms. Harrison gives each girl a bag filled with special Dominican treats and a complimentary lunch pass.
DHS students believe that being a Spend-A-Day host makes Dominican all the better. “Giving these young girls the true insight on what Dominican is gives me the best feeling,” said senior Abby Ordoyne. Ordoyne enjoyed spending a normal day at school with her younger cousin, Alexa Walsh, a fifth grader at St. Rita School in Harahan.
Alexa enjoyed seeing Dominican through her older cousin’s eyes. “Spending the day at Dominican has helped me make a choice on where I want to go to high school,” Alexa said. She then told her cousin that she plans on attending Dominican.
Current DHS student Isabella Totorico, eighth grader, said that after spending the day as a seventh grader last year, she felt confident in making her decision to attend Dominican. She said that walking through the schedule helped her decide on Dominican. “I really liked how the schedule rotates, and I would not be doing the same thing every day,” said Totorico.
Walking the halls and meeting the teachers gives the students the chance to see what it is like to be a Dominican girl. Admissions Director Ms. Cathy Rice agrees. She said that the Spend-A-Day program is the most influential factor for students who decide to come to Dominican. It is all about the girls feeling comfortable and at home.
Dominican is truly a second home to all the girls that have walked these halls. And that feeling radiates to the girls that spend a day.
- Morgan Muscarello
Oh, the places they went!
Adventure was on the itinerary as three Dominican students traveled to new places and learned exciting things. Those students brought back their memories and experiences to share with the rest of Dominican community.
During the summer, seniors Tai Sutherland and Amanda Bolden, as well as junior Sara Sciortino, embarked on journeys all over the country and world – from Michigan to Australia. Though the girls traveled for unique purposes, they brought back their knowledge to share with the DHS community.
An Australian Adventure
Have you heard about the Aboriginal Australians? If not, Tai Sutherland has the answers. This summer, Sutherland journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to the Outback.
With her family, she visited Melbourne, Sydney and Uluru, Australia. While there, she visited many attractions, including an invitation-only Aboriginal Australian island.
Sutherland’s trip taught her about Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal Australians have been on that continent for over 70,000 years.
“It opened my eyes to things I didn’t know about their culture,” said Sutherland.
With the knowledge she gained from her trip, Sutherland hopes to bring back insight about the Aboriginal Australians’ lifestyle. “With what I know now, I can discuss diversity from a new perspective,” she said.
An Innovative Internship
Working in the school lab can be fun, but working in a research lab surrounded by paid professionals is even more fun. Over the course of eight weeks during the summer, this was senior Amanda Bolden’s life.
Bolden earned a research internship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. There she conducted research on cell biology, worked in labs, collected data – all while taking math and sciences classes.
However, that was not the only thing that impacted her summer. While in Baltimore, Bolden lived more independently than she ever had.
“I had to take the bus every day to my internship, make sure I made it on time and take care of myself,” said Bolden. Today, Bolden remains independent in many of the things she does.
Bolden hopes to go into a research field in the future. With this experience, “I can help students who struggle (in math and science) so they will improve.” said Bolden.
A Preaching Pilgrimage
Bringing back knowledge from a trip can be the most fun part of the experience, but for Student Preacher Sara Sciortino, it was even more. Deciding to embark on this journey came easily to Sciortino. “I felt myself falling out of my relationship with God,” said Sciortino. “I felt God was trying to call me back to him, and I felt that becoming a student preacher was the best way to do that.”
In June, Sciortino, along with other new student preachers and Ms. Claire Gallagher (’04), headed to Adrian, Michigan, for the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference.
After a day of working with the Salvation Army, Sciortino collaborated with the Colegio de San Antonio, a school from Puerto Rico, on a prayer service. She participated in the washing of the feet, and she gave her first reflection during the service.
At the conference, Sciortino experienced new cultures and diverse ways of worship. She learned to unite people of different backgrounds through prayer and is bringing back this concept to the DHS community.
This year, Sciortino plans to make the students of Dominican feel welcomed into the activities the preachers have to offer. She hopes everyone will feel comfortable getting involved with the activities.
The adventure continues as these students share their broadened view of the world with their friends on Walmsley Ave.
Oh, the things they learned!
- Isabelle Fitzmorris
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler
“Four score and seven years ago” (or maybe just one score), Mr. Duplantis served the city in the hospitality industry. The job included walking around New Orleans to assist tourists with directions, recommendations and any other questions they had about the city. Working in the hospitality industry required a vast understanding of the unique culture of the city of New Orleans, and that experience has benefited Mr. Duplantis in teaching history and civics at DHS. Conversely, he was able to have a better understanding of the history he teaches in the classroom through his experience working in the city. Working in the hospitality industry can put someone in some interesting and bizarre situations. “I once had to chase down a donkey because it broke loose from its carriage,” said Mr. Duplantis. “Just another day at the office I guess.”
Anjel the Science Bell
Not only does Ms. Guitroz know the anatomy of the human body, but she knows microorganisms, too. Ms. Guidtroz was also a research scientist with a focus in molecular biology and microbiology for the United States Department of Agriculture. Her research projects spanned from finding a cure for fungal infections in plants to developing biological means to eliminate termite populations. She did this for nearly 20 years until her journey brought her to DHS. “Working in research is like working in a problem. There is always some sort of problem that you need to solve, and I loved looking for those answers,” said Ms. Guitroz.
To Relate or Not to Relate
Before reciting the tragedies of Shakespeare and preaching the importance of the Oxford comma, Ms. Thomas’s skills resided in public relations. With an English degree and her natural affinity for writing, Ms. Thomas worked for United Way, Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library. Ms. Thomas worked for these organizations in fundraising, event planning and media relations. During that time, she also developed interpersonal skills and a worldwide perspective that makes her teaching unique. “In my public relations work, I used my skill set to meet people from all walks of life and learned how to work with others,” said Ms. Thomas, “It gave me a life experience, which I bring into the classroom and share with my students.”
Teacher by Day, Insurance Salesmen by Night
Mr. Cusimano sold insurance and worked in real estate for 26 years before becoming a teacher. Along with selling insurance, he worked in real estate management. After 26 years in the business, he wanted to go back to what he loved doing – teaching! His career in business taught him how to multitask in his teaching career. He teaches both religion and United States history. He brings his love of prayer and songs into both of his courses. Mr. Cusimano does not just teach at Dominican; he also is the coach of the Bowling Team. With his witty bowling jokes shared during announcements, Mr. Cusimano spreads his love for bowling to the entire Dominican student body.
Journey to Teaching
From building guitar amplifiers for celebrities to doing classified government work, Mr. Lannes incorporates his love for engineering into the classroom. Since middle school, Mr. Lannes set his sight on becoming an engineer. He began by working for some big companies including Texas Instruments, Northrop Grumman and ION Geophysical. Shortly into his career, Mr. Lannes did some classified government work to experience the security aspect of technology and to be exposed to the state-of-the-art material. Before making his way to Dominican, he started his teaching career as an adjunct professor at UNO and found his calling in teaching engineering. Besides teaching, one of his favorite professional experiences has been building guitar amplifiers and meeting celebrities like Randy Jackson, Steve Hackett and Clarence “Gate Mouth” Brown.
The newspaper staff has a new journalist to introduce—Mrs. Claudia Vallejo! A Spanish teacher and Zumba instructor, Mrs. Vallejo also has a passion for writing. She had worked as a journalist in Columbia for two years before moving to the United States. Although she’s admittedly shy, she loves talking to people and getting to know everyone’s side of the story. She studied journalism, social communications in college, feeding her interest in issues of today’s society. She incorporates her journalism expertise into her Spanish IV AP class having her students to interview many Spanish speakers from around the world. Currently, she works independently at Viva Nola, a New Orleans and Hispanic magazine, and is in the process of writing a story on Amanda Shaw, a Latina Cajun singer.
Take the quiz and test your Rally Day knowledge.
by Vivian Palmer, class of 2019
I’m aware that I carry traits, genetic wiring, emotional baggage. I can feel it in my bones. I am constantly shaped by the people, the places, and the things I encounter. Each one flows into my life and contributes to the formation of my person like the tributaries into the Mississippi. New Orleans is my one and only home, the only place I’ve ever lived, and a central part of my identity. Its culture and quirks are what make me who I am, and the music and arts of the city impact my life on a daily basis. As an arts lover and a dancer, New Orleans allows me to be immersed in a rich and colorful arts scene that is unique to this city alone. New Orleans is the only place where you can walk down the street and hear a jazz quartet playing in a club on one corner, and turn and see a collection of paintings hanging for sale on the wrought iron fence of Jackson Square on another, and for this, I am eternally grateful. Tennessee Williams once wrote, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” Every day, I wake up and thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in Cleveland. Anywhere else, the city will not embrace you at first glance and let its artful culture seep into your pores; but in New Orleans, it’s just how the city says hi. Here, because art is a vital part of the city’s composition, I can be passionate about it without boundaries. However, without a city that freely and unapologetically expresses itself, I don’t think I would feel comfortable doing the same.
Overall, society suppresses the arts, but in this city, they are highlighted, and dance, specifically, is something that New Orleans embraces. The art of dance, in and of itself, is universal. Everyone can dance, anywhere, at any time. Dance is spontaneous, and it can begin in an instant. It requires no formal training, no formal attire, and no objects, except two mobile feet, and because of its easy access, dance can be found in every inch of the city. From the second liners on Bourbon Street to the tap dancer in front of St. Louis Cathedral trying to earn a buck, to the partygoers at Rock ‘n’ Bowl and even all the way to my own dance studio, dancers move and descend further and further into the New Orleans culture, a culture that has been alive with dance for three hundred years. From New Orleans’ very inception, Cajuns gathered in dance halls to preserve their culture and traditions, and the same is true for the African slaves in Congo Square. Even when they had nothing else, no freedoms, no rights, they still had their own customs, which they preserved through dance. Once a day, for a few minutes a day, dance was a slave’s escape from the tragic reality that was his or her life. In a similar way, dance allows people in New Orleans to escape their realities and be someone else, if only for a moment. However, it is only because New Orleans has the arts at its core that this escape is possible. Without things like dance and music pumping through its veins, New Orleans would lose all vitality, all spirit, all culture, and in turn, I, and many other artists, would as well. Without the arts, New Orleans would just be Cleveland, and the world would suffer an unbearable loss.
Cby Ella Cheramie, class of 2019
Click-Clack goes the horses marching down St. Charles, atop them police united with the people
Click-Clack goes the soles of a young boy’s feet, of his makeshift taps from his daddy’s cans
Click-clack goes the spare change thrown in the box of a performer who sits near the historic steeple
Click-clack goes the Abita bottle, being tapped by a lost drummer’s hands
Click-clack goes the tractor sinking into the pothole, taking the brunt of damage so the float lugged behind it rides smooth
Click-clack goes the beads aimed straight for the drains, green shiny plastic meets hard metal Click-clack goes the tambourine off the hip of a Mardi Gras Indian, who feels the groove
Click-clack goes the spoon, stirring the tea to awaken New Orleans creative minds, brewed straight from the kettle
Click-clack goes the cruiser bike switching gears, as it approaches the bustling colorful Frenchman street
Click-Clack goes the track of the ruby red Canal Street streetcar, dropping off local and tourists to the river
Click-clack goes the succulent crawfish poured atop the table, an aroma Catholics on Fridays adore more than meat
Click-clack goes the spray paint can marking a Katrina- X, as the national guard plays the role of a giver
Click-clack goes the lights of the Superdome, a place of refuge and unity, for the first time since the storm
Click-clack goes the hammers of volunteers rebuilding our homes
Click-clack goes the sounds of the heartbeat of resilient city reborn
Click-clack goes the door of our newly built fence to a home built from love and a yard for us to roam
Click the link and take the quiz! Build your Thanksgiving menu to find out which Dominican Faculty member you are most like.
- original artwork by senior Rebecca Triche, member of the National Art Honor Society
- quiz designed by Jade Nguyen
Ms. Anjel Guitroz- Eyes and Dolls
The woman behind the SynDaver isn’t Ms. Guitroz. It’s Barbie! Ms. Guitroz is an avid collector of special edition Barbie dolls. Her collection began fifteen years ago with a set of Barbie dolls inspired by her favorite movie, Gone with the Wind. Her collection includes dolls from famous movies and TV shows such as That’s So Raven and I Love Lucy.
Her two favorite dolls are her special 40th Anniversary Barbie that was made in 1999, the year her daughter Anya was born, and her sorority’s specially-made Alpha Kappa Alpha doll that was created to commemorate the first all-black sorority in the United States.
“I’ve always loved dolls ever since I was little,” says Guitroz. “I love the stories behind them and the people they represent.”
- Natalie Rodriguez-Ema
Mrs. Katie Kirkwood – 44 Presidents in One (or two) Breaths
Not only is Mrs. Kirkwood a math teacher, she also has a hidden talent. She can name all the presidents of the United States in under 25 seconds. She learned how to do this impressive talent in the 5th grade through a song. She can name them all with their first and last names. She used to recite this fascinating skill to her past classes.
- Jennifer Yrle
Mr. Cameron Hahne- Performing Fanatic
Dominican welcomes a new cast member to the stage, Mr. Hahne, as he performs in his new roles as French and religion teacher. Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Hahne is passionate about all things theater. He is a member of the ensemble of The Music Man at Rivertown Theaters for Performing Arts and has performed in musicals throughout high school and college.
In addition, he takes gymnastics classes, dance classes and voice lessons to help strengthen his skills for theater. “I enjoy having an outlet for my creative energy,” Mr. Hahne.
- Natalie Rodriguez-Ema
Sister Pam – Former Teacher and Rock Enthusiast
Believe it or not, Sister Pam had a career before settling in to Room 109 at Dominican. A former teacher and a rock enthusiast, Sister Pam Weathersby, M.S.C., loves all things science. For 40 years, Sister Pam was a science teacher in the Archdiocese of New Orleans school system. She taught biology, microbiology, earth science and physical science. In fact, rocks of the earth are some her favorite things. “Rocks remind me that we are still on the brink of creation,” said Sister Pam.
- Jennifer Yrle
Mr. Kwantrell Rideau- A Saxophone Star
The maintainance staff’s Mr. Kwantrell has a hidden talent of his own: he plays the saxophone like no one else. Mr. Kwantrell Rideau been playing saxophone since he was eight years old. He fell in love with instrument because of its smooth, flowing sound. He keeps up with playing as a hobby and in a jazz group. His favorite genres to play are traditional jazz, blues and contemporary jazz. He said he especially loves to play in Mardi Gras Second Lines. “I’ve always enjoyed the sound of the saxophone, ever since I first started playing,” said Mr. Kwantrell.
- Natalie Rodriguez-Ema
Ms. Charlene Ford – English Teacher by Day, Baker by Night
Ms. Ford loves baking honey buns as much as she loves teaching Hamlet. She began baking when she was a student at LSU, but she does remember baking with her mom when she was little. Her bookshelves are full of cookbooks even though she’s not the best at following the recipes. Because Ms. Ford lives a vegan lifestyle, she said her biggest challenge is to modify recipes to make them vegan.
“My Instagram is all food,” said Ms. Ford. “My favorite recipe I’ve made has to be the Classic Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
- Grace DiFranco
Ms. Ashlyn Ciolino – Woodworking Enthusiast
While Coach Ciolino spends most of her time teaching P.E. in the SARG or coaching the Stunnah Runnahs of the Dominican Cross Country Team, woodwork is something that she also enjoys. Ms. Ciolino first discovered her love for building things when, at age 12, she built a wooden halfpipe with her cousins for skateboarding.
She calls this event her “intro to woodwork,” and since then, she has built many different things, including a door for her house, shelving, and even a trophy for the Cross Country team after a race win. “I’ve come a long way. I don’t make as many mistakes anymore,” said Ms. Ciolino.
- Vivian Palmer
Sr. Angeline Magro, O.P. – The African Violet Whisperer
Sr. Angeline has a knack for bringing an African violet plant back. She has such as green thumb that she has a nursery for sick violets in the in the back of the library. Those African violet plants displayed in the library have all been brought back to health by Sr. Angeline.
She said she waters them once a week, removes the dead flowers and leaves, “and I talk to them nicely.” She loves seeing them grow and has some at her house. “I liked watching the flowers grow and sometimes the plants would grow shoots. So I learned how to transplant the shoots,” said Sr. Angeline.
- Jade Nguyen
Mr. Matthew Foss- Master of Frog Tie Friday
Mr. Foss’s hidden talent, besides being a physics aficionado, is that he devloped a method to his “frog tie Friday” madness. Mr. Foss has a specific algorithm for organizing his outfits for the week.
The system begins with the shoes (either black or brown), then follows with the pants, shirt and, of course, the tie. Each week, he alternates a few color choices of articles of clothing, which then establishes his ensemble for the day. “If it’s the right time and the right day, then it’ll be a Frog Tie Friday!” said Mr. Foss.
- Kathryn Valldejuli
Ms. Lauren Bordelon- Krav Maga Master
She’s a master of Scripture, student council and of marital arts. Ms. Bordelon practices the art of Krav Maga at Triumph Self Defense School. She’s been attending classes 2-3 times each week since October. “I wanted to learn self-defense,” said Ms. Bordelon. “It is good practice being assertive, and I love the community there!”
- Kathryn Valldejuli
Mrs. Dawn Frick – Puppy Love
Mrs. Frick has always been an animal lover. Even though her mother wasn’t fond of animals, Mrs. Frick had two dogs during her childhood years. When she became an adult, she had several pets which were a part of her family.
After those beloved pets died, she knew she didn’t want to deal with that pain again, so she and her family started fostering dogs. Her latest and greatest endeavor was fostering three puppies this past summer.
- Macie LaFonta