In August, Spirit Week and the Back to School Dance kicked off the 2019-20 school year. As students prepare for first quarter exams, take a look at some of those spirited memories.
With the help of prayer, stories, dancing and songs, Dominicans students preached the good news of the 2019 Spring Musical, Godspell, presented in April in the Sister Ambrose Reggio Gym. The production, directed by Mr. Patrick Cragin, showcased a cast of students portraying Jesus Christ and his disciples.
Godspell follows the story of Jesus, portrayed by senior Zoe Ashley, and his interactions with the disciples. Together, they tell parables using songs and dance. The musical then journeys to the Last Supper and eventually the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For first-time director Mr. Cragin, directing wasn’t something he wanted to do until recently. He is an actor and has appeared in shows like Law and Order: SVU, Switched at Birth, as well as productions of Hairspray!, Grease and West Side Story. He was in a production of Newsies at the La Mirada Theater in California, and his director for the show inspired him to direct. He chose Godspell for his directorial debut because he wanted to get to know his cast. “I thought Godspell was the perfect show for that since everyone is on stage all the time,” said Mr. Cragin.
The cast consisted of girls and boys that come from different backgrounds and experiences. As a senior, Ashley auditioned in her last Dominican year because she has always loved musical theater and performing. She even took some years off from performing to study musical theater with camps at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and Oxbridge Academic programs in New York. “I genuinely love performing,” said Ashley. “It felt very surreal to get the lead role.”
Freshman Mia DiGiovanni also auditioned because music (musical theater in particular) is her passion. Being in musicals has also helped her improve her dancing, singing and acting skills. The theater has also taught her many skills like how to lead, how to manage time and how to work with others. “There’s just something enchanting about it that draws you in,” said DiGiovanni. “Being able to make the audience feel genuine emotions from your performances is a crazy feeling.”
The cast auditioned in mid-January and worked non-stop since then to prepare for the show. According to Mrs. Kara Munns, faculty moderator, they practiced six days a week, three to four hours on weekdays and seven to eight hours on Saturdays. Finally, all their hard work paid off when the show was ready to open.
The cast worked together to put on a successful show and came together to close out the performances. “I’m most proud of the students for really committing and creating a community for each other,” said Mr. Cragin. “It was rewarding to watch everyone step up past what we thought we could do and create something that moved the audience.”
Ashley also loved the community that the cast created. “The whole premise of the show is Jesus forming a community, and we did, too,” said Ashley. Similarly, DiGiovanni loved the experience because “I love getting to do something I love with people who are equally as passionate as I am.”
The relationship between the cast and the crew is essential to the performance. The crew acts as the secret force of behind-the-scenes workers. “To do their job well, they have to be invisible,” said Ms. Angelle Caffery, scenery and stage crew director. The crew not only transforms the stage; they also run the show. They are in charge of making sure the cast has proper costumes, the proper sets, and a prepared stage. The crew also designs and runs the lights for the show. “The cast relies on the crew,” said Ms. Caffery. “There can’t be a cast without a crew.”
Another unique star of the Dominican musical is the live orchestra. The orchestra, directed by Ms. Brenda Castillo, musical director, is composed of Dominican students and plays the songs live in the show, rather than using a recording.
All of these aspects —cast, crew, orchestra and directors— create a community in the Dominican arts program and help to create a beautiful show, capable of captivating and moving the audience.
- Grace DiFranco
As the words, “One year ago, I sat in my desk waiting for my name to be called…” fill St. Mary’s Hall, students rush into the hallway to hear the news of who will be on the next Student Council E-Board. In April following a week of campaigning, Dominican students elected next year’s Executive Board.
Now introducing the 2019-2020 E-Board: President Erin Sequeira, Vice President Zoee Hunter, Secretary Bryce Leonhard and Treasurer Alyssa Helwig.
During the two days of voting, candidates experienced nervousness and excitement as they waited in their homerooms for their names to be called over the P.A. “My leg was shaking, my heart was beating and I was just so nervous, but in a good way,” said Vice President Zoee Hunter. “I was filled with a rush of excitement.”
Not only were the candidates excited, but students were, too. Students gathered in the St. Mary’s Hall to cheer on the newly-elected E-Board members. Keeping with the tradition, the incoming and outgoing E-Board members ran down the hallways to be congratulated by the student body. “Running down the halls was so exhilarating and exciting because I got to see all of the students cheering me on,” said President Erin Sequeira. “It made me happier than I already was.”
“So much goes into E-Board elections. Being on E-Board is definitely a big responsibility,” said Ms. Lauren Bordelon, student council moderator. “They’re a strong team. They’re going to learn how to share each other’s ideas while having the time of their lives.”
In the next school year, the E-Board plans on bringing new ideas and activities to the table. “We’re brainstorming so many ideas for this upcoming year because we all want the 2019-2020 school year to be successful,” said Sequeira. “Trust me when I say, it’s going to be good.”
As this school year comes to an end, the 2018-2019 Vice President Olivia Singleton saw the elections as being bittersweet. “I was excited to see what goes behind the scenes, but it was emotional thinking of all the memories I have from this year.”
Outgoing E-Board President Cappy Elvir shares those bittersweet feelings. “Being on E-Board has meant so much more than just planning events,” said Elvir. “It’s about leading your peers through tough times and showing them that there can always be a brighter side.” Elvir wants the new members to remember to “spend quality time together and have fun. It might be over before you know it!”
- Jade Nguyen
“We need to move beyond the idea that girls can be leaders and create the expectation that they should be leaders.” – Condoleeza Rice
As up and coming leaders, Dominican students, led by the professional women around them, will eventually take the reins and lead the next generations.
At this year’s annual Career Day, alumnae and other guest speakers showed students how women in the workplace get the job done.
Dominican alumnae showcased many occupations, aiding students in deciphering their career paths. On Mar. 27, the Counseling Department hosted 42 professional women, including 37 Dominican alumnae, to inspire and embolden the up and comers of the future.
Each speaker spent her time sharing both knowledge and advice with students, giving them insight into the highly competitive and exciting job market. Speakers this year ranged from a designer to a death investigator and showed the broad assortment of opportunities open to young Dominicans.
While Career Day this year showed a diversity of career paths, it also addressed the reality of a primarily male workforce. Many speakers acknowledged that they’ve overcome obstacles encountered in the male-dominated career paths they have chosen.
Mrs. Shelley Mateu (’92), who works as a pilot at Southwest Airlines, made it very clear that success is earned rather than given.
“In my line of work, sometimes I step into meetings or conventions made up of rooms of only men,” said Mrs. Mateu. “I think if anything, it’s made me realize that as a woman, I may have to work harder. At the same time, I truly earn all of my accomplishments.”
As a pilot for Southwest, Mrs. Mateu travels all over the country, safely getting passengers from place to place. Every day, her pilot duties jetted her from New Orleans to Washington as well as to countries like Italy and Australia.
For the past two decades, Dominican’s Counseling Department has sponsored Career Day to bring successful, empowered professionals to the student audience. This year, Career Day served as a sort of homecoming for both recent graduates and decade-long alumnae, as well.
Ms. Elise Glueck (’14), an accessory designer and entrepreneur, came back to Dominican to share her experiences as a young alumna in a fast-paced world.
“It was really important to me that I come back and share my experience with current students,” said Ms. Glueck. “Even though I’m fresh out of college, I wanted to speak at Career Day to show students that Dominican women can do anything they set their mind to, whatever that may be.”
Ms. Glueck graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design last May where she first discovered her love for accessory design. She currently lives in New Orleans, designing both her own creations and beginning work as an interior designer around the city.
Year after year, Career Day influences Dominican students’ career choices, either reinforcing their prior aspirations or turning them onto a completely unexpected path. For senior Laynie Tierney, this year’s Career Day did just that.
“This year’s Career Day affected me like none before,” said Tierney. “As I was watching the civil engineer talk about her job, I felt like I could see myself doing that. I had found my dream job.”
Before Career Day, Tierney had her heart set on becoming an architectural student at the University of Southern Mississippi. However, after seeing Mrs. Emma Hensley Taylor, E.I. (’12) speak about her work in the civil engineering field, Tierney completely changed her path. After her experience, she has not only changed her major, but also her choice of college. Because of Career Day, Tierney now plans on attending the University of New Orleans in the fall to study civil engineering.
Dominican’s 2019 Career Day served as both a guiding light for current students and welcome to successful professionals, alumnae and non-alumnae alike. While informing the next generation of Dominicans, it also showed the versatility of women in the workplace.
“Career counseling is part of our job as student advocates. Over students’ four to five years here at Dominican, we try to expose them to as many opportunities as possible,” said Mrs. Suzanne Ladmirault, guidance counselor. Over the years of Career Days, students are exposed to as many as 20 professionals in both growing and established fields, helping them to make informed decisions for their futures.
“Career Day is always exciting because I get to see a wide variety of jobs, including some I did not know existed,” said senior Cameron Wall. “I really got to explore the different occupations with an altered perspective, and the entire day excited me to go out into the world and make my mark.”
With a record of 20-6-5, the Dominican soccer team scored their way to district finals and were named district co-champions. Led by 2018 Regional Coach of the Year Mr. Al Silvas, the team won 20 of their 31 regular season game with a number of team players earning special honors and awards.
Dominating their first playoff game against Baton Rouge High School on Feb. 6 with a final score of 1-0, the team went on to the second round of playoffs. Although ending in defeat against Mandeville High School on Feb. 11, the team finished strong with a score of 2-3.
“The girls went extremely far this season,” said Mr. Silvas. “Their belief in one another and their ability to implement their style of play carried them through the season. Their unity on and off the field helped them to flourish.”
After a very successful regular season, the team tied with Mount Carmel Academy 1-1 and became district co-champions following the Jan. 26 game at Pan American Stadium.
Other high points of the seasons included celebrating three seniors on the team – Olivia Singleton, Madigan Spiers and Lizzie Algero – who were named to the East All Star Team.
Playing soccer for DHS has had a huge impact on Singleton, one of the senior co-captains. “Being a member of the team for 5 years has brought even more value to a game I have loved for a long time,” said Singleton. “Wins are more enjoyable when you’re doing it with people you love.” Singleton was one of the standout players this year. During the season, she was named district overall MVP and earned first team all-district.
“Throughout the course of season, the team really bonded together,” said Mr. Silvas. “The girls made big strides and accomplished many of their goals including winning district, keeping a positive attitude, gaining shutouts and creating an identity for themselves.”
Senior Elizabeth Algero, defensive midfielder, was co-captain this year, along with Olivia Singleton, Madigan Spiers and Bella Cordoba. To continue her soccer career on the university level, Cordoba has signed with Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.
“As captains, we try to motivate players to work harder and try to keep the morale of the team positive no matter what,” said Algero. “My last year on the team has been unlike any other year, and I’m confident they will go far in upcoming years.”
Another triumph team the team has celebrated has been on Coach Silvas’s behalf. On Jan. 12, Mr. Silvas received the 2018 Regional Coach of the Year Award for winter soccer for Private/Parochial schools presented by United Soccer Coaches. Founded in 1941, United Soccer Coaches is an organization of American soccer coaches and is the largest organization of soccer coaches in the world.
Throughout the season, the team never backed down in the face of “fear,” this year’s motto. “When they had the option, they could forget everything and run, or face everything, and rise,” said Mr. Silvas. “We didn’t back down from anyone.”
- Macie LaFonta and Kathryn Valldejuli
From the grocery store shelf to Dominican’s donation pile, tens of thousands of cans made their journey from the hands of DHS students to the home of the hungry.
This year, Dominican collected over 15,000 cans for Second Harvest Food Bank at Dominican’s 20th Annual Canned Food Drive held on Feb. 5-13.
“As a Dominican school, it is important to collectively act on the pillar of service,” said Mrs. Jill Cabes (’87), Vice President, Dominican Catholic Identity. “I love the spirit and excitement that build throughout the week.”
Second Harvest provides food and support to 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes. Dominican’s annual food drive is the largest food drive in the Greater New Orleans Area.
“Hunger is an everyday emergency,” said Ms. Emily Slazer, Second Harvest Food Sourcing Specialist. “In Louisiana, one in five households is at risk of hunger.”
With an exact total of 15,186 cans collected, Dominican provided 11,150 meals to the hungry.
“The canned food drive brought the whole school together and showed that even a small act of donating can make a great impact on the community,” said senior Isabella Purpura, treasurer of CLC. “Our main focus is service to our community, and this is one of our biggest projects for which we advocate.”
To kick off the canned food drive, Dominican hosted the Justice Awareness Mass on Feb. 5 and welcomed over 200 students from pre-k through grade 7 from neighboring St. Rita Catholic School to celebrate. Led by Celebrant Fr. Peter Finney, III, Pastor of St. Rita Catholic Church, the mass was all about bringing peace and justice to the community.
This year was Dominican’s first annual Peace Mass and the start of a yearly collaboration with St. Rita students, and even their choir.
“The mass is about cultivating peace,” said Mrs. Cabes. “This drive is our largest campus-wide service project, so it fits perfectly with our Justice Awareness Mass.”
“I love seeing the magnitude we are able to accomplish,” said Ms. Claire Gallagher (’04), campus minister. “On an individual bases, someone bringing in a few cans doesn’t seem like a lot, but when we all contribute, it’s exciting to see what we can do when we put all of our efforts together.”
- Kathryn Valldejuli
“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people”- Unknown
The diversity of Dominican’s school community is an important feature of life on Walmsley. To celebrate this diversity, the DHS Multicultural Club hosted its annual Multicultural Festival on Mar. 14 to showcase and celebrate the culture and backgrounds of the students. With performances by both students and guests, this popular event filled the Sr. Ambrose Reggio Gym with the songs, dances and languages of different cultures from across the globe.
This year, the student-organized festival included thirty participants from all grade levels. Performances ranged from a fashion show of traditional dresses from ten countries to vocal performances and poetry. Additionally, two guest dancers from Crescent Lotus Dance Studio in New Orleans performed Arabian dances.
“The students played a big part in organizing the festival this year,” said Mr. Randy Duplantis, club moderator “I’m really proud of them for stepping up and taking ownership of such a successful event this year.”
Each year, students perform at Multicultural Festival to share their cultural backgrounds. “We encourage students to embrace their own culture,” said junior Amanda Bolden, president of the Multicultural Club. Bolden also stressed the importance of exposing DHS students to a variety of cultures.
During the festival, students enjoyed a fashion show of fifteen students who strutted through the SARG in colorful dresses and garments. The authentic costumes represented countries such as Vietnam, China, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Ankara and Western Africa.
The event traveled from Africa to Europe as eighth grader Isabella Bagnetto performed a traditional Irish step dance while wearing an Irish dress and shoes called ghillies. Representing the Far East, eighth graders Nicole Tran, Emma Plaisance and Samantha Phillips performed a traditional Chinese lion dance featuring a homemade dragon costume.
Special guests from Crescent Lotus Dance Studio transported the SARG to the Middle East as they performed traditional belly dances, featuring a cane called an assaya and small hand cymbals called zills.
Back in Europe, French students freshman Alexandra Amato, sophomore Sydney Raymond, and junior Myriel Green performed an original short story in French called “L’Histoire De Jerry Broyer.” The story, written for a creative writing contest at the French Convention, tells the adventures of a grave robber who robs a cemetery in New Orleans. The story “was inspired by several images of New Orleans,” according to Raymond.
Though the festival features many cultures from around the world, senior Holly Fraychineaud represented a culture in society that people often misunderstand. Fraychineaud sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day in American Sign Language, a language that gives a voice to the population of Americans who are unable to use their own voices to communicate. “A lot of people think that deaf people aren’t as capable and that their deafness is a disability,” said Fraychineaud. “Almost one hundred percent of deaf people will prove them wrong. Deaf people can do anything a hearing person can, except hear.”
The Multicultural Festival serves to educate students and promote the beauty and diversity of the cultures at Dominican. “The Multicultural Club has extended my previous knowledge of other cultures and has stumped common misconceptions about them,” said Bolden. “It is a way of learning about cultures different from my own in a fun and interesting way. We should all have the desire to learn about our differences because that is what makes us all so unique.”
– Natalie Rodriguez-Ema
Receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award is a big accomplishment for seniors Anne Marie Licata and Kalani Briggs. This award is the most prestigious awards a Girl Scout can obtain. To achieve the Gold Award, a young woman in high school must identify an issue and take action in finding a solution in her own unique way.
To earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouts identify and find a solution to an issue important to her. The seven-step process begins in the planning process and ends with carrying out the solution. As her final project, Licata sewed 100 heating pads for breast-feeding mothers at Ochsner Hospital to help alleviate their pain.
Being a Girl Scout for twelve years has taught Licata the importance of giving to others. She has also learned the value of being a leader in her community. “It has taught me how to speak out in my community and address what needs to be changed,” said Licata.
To accomplish her Gold Award goal, Briggs is collecting prom dresses to distribute to high schoolers who cannot afford to buy such a garment. She will receive her award this spring
From a young age, many think that they are unable to make changes in their community but being a Girl Scout has helped Briggs think differently. “No matter how small we think something is, it can mean the world to someone else,” said Briggs. “So, don’t get discouraged and stop because you aren’t making an impact because even if it is only to one person you are making a difference.”
- Jennifer Yrle
Reading recommendations for the bibliophile in all of us
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Published in 2018, Becoming is an memoir written by First Lady Michelle Obama. This up-close and personal novel is narrated in three parts by the First Lady and explores the various obstacles and challenges she faced in her childhood and even to the present.
Before the First Lady became “Mrs. Obama.” she was Michelle Robinson from the South Side of Chicago who was raised in a loving middle, middle-class family. From the very beginning, First Lady Michelle Obama possessed the intellectual drive to accomplish anything she put her mind to. After finishing high school, First Lady attended Princeton University for her undergraduate degree and Harvard University for her law degree. Years later while working in a corporate law firm, Mrs. Obama became the mentor to the future leader of the free world—President Barack Obama.
After dating for 3 years, they married and began their beautiful lives together. In the memoir, the First Lady tells of the many struggles she endured as being the wife of a political figure while trying to balance her career and desire to be a mother. Mrs. Obama admits from the start that she was not a fan of politics but has always recognized the changes that could be delivered because of it. While in office as the First Lady, Mrs. Obama instituted many initiatives to make the White House reflect the modern world she lived in. After living eight years in the public eye, the bittersweet moment came for the First Lady to pass down all that she has learned over the years. Although her job as First Lady is done, Mrs. Michelle Obama continues to travel the world uplifting young girls and helping them to realize their potential.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
In Alexandra Bracken’s action-packed, young adult thriller, the United States is plagued by a deadly disease that infects all ten year-old children. Those who survive the disease are infected with a variety of enhancements that are ranked by color. The surviving children are sent to camps are separated by their powers; blue being the less threatening and red being lethal. However, if children are diagnosed as orange or red, they are immediately euthanized because they are viewed as major threats.
In the camps, the children are treated worse than animals, and the protagonist (and orange) Ruby wishes for nothing more than her freedom as she hides out among the green children. Her wish is granted ten years later when Cate, a member of the Children’s League, sneaks her out of the camp. Her freedom is bittersweet and short lived when she learns the truth about the League, and she devises another successful escape plan that leads her to three other enhanced children. Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Zu face difficult and life-threatening obstacles as they search for the infamous “Slip-kid” but instead find themselves in a seemingly innocent campsite full of other children. Ruby and the trio struggle to survive in a world that wants them dead, while still holding onto their sanity and humanity. This book is a must-read for those looking for dramatic action scenes, adorable young love, and heartbreaking betrayals.
A Beautiful Composition of Broken by R.H. Sin
A Beautiful Composition of Broken by R.H. Sin is a collection of poems written about heartbreak, feminism, self-worth in relationships, and loving oneself. R.H. Sin shares his experiences in a poetic form to help the reader get through break ups, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness. Many of these poems focus on the topic of women being strong, beautiful warriors. Other poems also touch on the worthless feelings many people have after breakups. He focuses on the idea that it is not the readers fault for being hurt and that the other person was not mature enough to accept love. The remaining poems focus on loving oneself. R.H. Sin takes the cliché “You must love yourself before you accept others love” and puts it beautifully simple. He talks not only about the importance of self-love but also the difference between knowing you must love yourself and actually doing it.
R.H. Sin writes these poems so that they are filled with emotion and are a quick, easy read. The busy reader can read a poem or two when they have a free moment, then put it down and not come back to it for weeks. However, the emotional connection the reader develops to the book makes it impossible to put down. Sin’s emotional vulnerability shines through his words and transports the reader into his mindset. From sorrow over heartbreak to the pride of loving oneself, the reader can delve into their emotions. This collection is an exquisite, easy, and helpful read because these poems help people accept pain in life and rise above it.
The Junior Classical League’s Certamen team celebrates the end of an eventful day at the Certamen Tournament on Feb. 2. In this tournament, teams answer questions using their knowledge of Latin history and culture against other schools in the New Orleans area.
Members of DHS’s Certamen team are seniors Elise Cresson, Camille Scandurro, freshmen Janie Bickerton, Ada Holmes, Elizabeth Mobley, senior Isabelle Mermilliod, junior Irene Yu, senior Anne D’Armond, and freshman Katherine Mansfield. Bickerton, Holmes, Mobley and Mansfield – members of the Intermediate Certamen Team – took first in the competition.
The Junior Classical League is Dominican’s resident Latin, Greek and ancient culture club that participates in classics-themed events related to the preservation of ancient history and culture, such as the Certamen Tournament. The Certamen Tournament is an annual Latin quiz bowl sponsored by the Louisiana Junior Classical League in which several schools in the New Orleans area participate.
During the tournament at Archbishop Chapelle High School, teams of five students from competing schools crowded around buzzers as they competed to answer trivia questions. The questions ranged from mythology and history to grammar and mathematical equations that must be answered in Latin. Certamen means “contest” or even “struggle/battle” in Latin, which is fitting for the tournament’s atmosphere.
“As nerve wracking as it is to try to understand the Latin phrases (during the tournament) and to be expected to answer ‘in Latine,’ it is so rewarding to win a question for your team,” said JCL president senior Anne D’Armond. “Even if it was a pure guess.”
- Natalie Rodriguez-Ema