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
Each January, Dominican students travel to Washington D.C. and participate in the National March for Life. As a part of the New Orleans Archdiocese, Dominican students and teachers traveled with a total of 650 travelers from New Orleans to march for the right to life.
Along with tens of thousands, the DHS pilgrims marched from Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court building. This year’s march marked the 47th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in all 50 states. Though many students understood the significance of the trip, they were unprepared for the true impact of the experience.
For senior Celeste Schonberg, it was awe-inspiring to
see the number of people the march itself brings together. “I felt a sense of
solidarity from all of the people coming from all over the nation to fight for
a singular cause,” she said.
This cause, to be exact, is the fight to show that every human being has the right to life and therefore should not be killed by another entity. The march protests all infringements of the right to life, such as abortion and euthanasia.
Through rallies and events, Dominican marchers learned about what being Pro-Life means. On Jan. 23, students attended the Louisiana Right to Life Geaux Forth Rally. The event, held at the Warner Theater, was hosted by Ms. Mia Bordlee (’15) and Ms. Amanda Montesano, Co-Directors of the Louisiana Right to Life Youth Programs.
Ms. Montesano shared with the students and chaperones that she was the survivor of an abortion. As an adopted child, she had always assumed that her birth mother had chosen life for her. However, upon meeting her mother, Ms. Montesano learned the shocking reality of her birth.
Her birth mother told her that she had survived an attempted abortion. Ms. Montesano also learned the sad truth that she had a twin sibling whom she lost to the abortion. This tragic experience taught Ms. Montesano the true significance of life.
In addition to the speakers at the Geaux Forth Rally, Louisiana State Senator Ms. Katrina Jackson also stopped by share her thoughts on the March for Life as well as commend Louisiana for being the number one Pro-Life state in the nation.
Traveling from one rally to the next, students gained a deeper understanding of what is means to be Pro-Life. Ms. Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, spoke to the crowd of 10,000 during the “Life is VERY Good” event. Although most of her family was massacred, her faith propelled her to forgive even those who committed the malicious crime. She left the students with this powerful message giving them not only the significance of life to think about but also everything that comes with it.
Unified, the students selflessly marched for life. Many said that they will cherish the memories they made during this trip.
“This trip encouraged me and affirmed my beliefs,” said junior Mackenzie Paradis. “The actual firsthand experience of marching for something I cared about so deeply gave me a breakthrough that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
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.
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
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!”
“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
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
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
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
“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
“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.”
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.”
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
“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
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
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.”
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