The 2019 Dominican Tennis Team served up a successful season. The team took to the court at the Regional Tournament on April 16 at City Park and finished as runner up, with all eight players qualifying for State.
Sophomore Mary Parker Whisnant rallied
to the finals singles match at the tournament and finished as the regional
runner up. “I wanted to get as far as I
could in regionals,” said Whisnant. “Making it to the finals was definitely an
accomplishment.” Whisnant also felt that the team “grew closer together and
definitely learned a lot about each other” during this experience.
As Regional runner up, DHS advanced
to the State Tournament on April 26-27 in Monroe, LA. The eight players who
qualified for state were juniors Annamarie Allen, Lucy Harper, Adele Hoth and
Rachel Schlosser; sophomores Marist Bourg and Mary Parker Whisnant; and eighth
graders Kay Harper and Rachel Natal.
Doubles players Allen and Schlosser
advanced to the second round of the State Tournament. Additionally, singles
player Whisnant also advanced to the second round then to the quarter finals,
where the team’s season ended. “I was really excited to get that far in state
this year,” said Whisnant.
Although the team’s season ended in
the quarter finals round, they still accomplished a team goal. According to
Mrs. Stephanie Bollman, tennis coach, their team goal was to get a full roster at
the State Tournament.
With a successful season on the court, the team is ready for next year. Schlosser is looking forward to spending her last year with her team. “I’m proud of what we accomplished this season,” she said, “and I’m excited to do it again next year.”
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!”
space the final frontier? Dominican students and perspective students explored
the frontier of science and space at DominiScience Saturday on Mar. 30.
experiments alongside Dominican faculty and students, elementary students from
fourth to sixth grade attended the spaced-themed DominiScience Saturday. The DHS
Robotics Team and science department teachers helped young visitors shine as
bright as the sun while furthering their knowledge and education in STREAMTM.
students and prospective DominiScientists gathered in the Gayle and Tom Benson
Science and Technology Center to enjoy galactic experiments such as finding the
Polaris North Star, creating a star finder, making luminaries, building lunar
finders, and flying geobats, otherwise known as UFO paper airplanes.
Favorite activities included building lunar landers and making luminaries. The girls constructed lunar landers out of straws, plates and other supplies. Then they tested to make sure their “astronauts,” represented by marshmallows, would survive the trip. The landers were dropped from the lab tables, and if the marshmallows stayed in the lunar lander, it was a successful landing.
purpose of DominiScience Saturday is to incorporate STREAMTM into
prospective student events. Mrs. Giacona, moderator of the Robotics Club,
enjoys sharing her love of science with prospective students. Mrs. Giacona
wants to “encourage the next generation of Dominican students to be interested
in science” in preparation for high school.
Kelly Jackson and Indya Taylor helped the future Domini-Scientists with their
experiments. “My favorite part was watching the young girls get excited about
science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Jackson.
with Jackson, Taylor enjoyed spending time with the youngsters while expanding
her knowledge of science.
Audrey Wild also helped the girls with their experiments. “These girls may be
the next generation of scientists. They will make the big scientific
discoveries that will expand our knowledge of the world,” said Wild.
“I want these girls to know that they are
amazing,” said Mrs. Giacona, “and they can do anything they set their minds to.”
“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.
“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.”
Race to the Finish! –
Competing in the First Tech Challenge (FTC), Robotics team members senior Kayla
Nguyen and juniors Mia Nguyen and Anita Whitner race their robot to finish a
series of challenges in the Northshore FTC Qualifier competition in February.
The two Dominican teams, Team Ultra Violet and Team Valkyries, both placed in the competition. Dominican Team Ultra Violet placed first in Innovate, third in Think and third in Connect. Dominican Team Valkyries placed first in Think, second in Control, and third in Inspire, which is the highest award.
Dominican competes in the FTC Qualifier every year, and the teams who win qualify for regional competition. Winning regionals also means the team qualifies for the world competition, which is always a goal for the Dominican Robotics teams. The competition begins with a pre-programmed activity where the girls are not directly controlling the robots. The girls program their robots to complete tasks in a certain amount of time.
Next up, they competed in the tele-op competition where the driver controls the robots. Two teams played together as one and each team worked to get as many points as possible. When they had thirty-seconds left, the drivers had to steer their robots back to their spots, attach to the base in the middle and lift itself off the ground. These different activities teach the girls how to work and communicate as a team. Click here to watch the competition:
“I love robotics because I am able to meet new people,” said junior Mia Nguyen. “Robotics has helped me in deciding a career choice for the future also. Throughout my years on the team, robotics has given me insight and opportunity to experience STREAMTM.”
–The Dominican Debs proudly celebrate their national ranking at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship. The competition took place from Feb. 1-3 in Orlando, Fl.
Ranked ninth in the nation, the Debs ended their season in the top ten in the country for their Game Day choreography. After winning multiple first place titles in January’s American All-Star Louisiana State Dance Competition, the squad traveled to Orlando for the UDA Nationals competition and placed ninth overall for their three best routines. The competition proved to be a success and acted as the grand finale to their 2018-2019 season.
See their Game Day performance here.
“UDA Nationals was a great opportunity for our team to showcase its talents up against competitors from across the country. Normally, the Debs only compete against 5 teams, who tend to be the same at every competition, so to be nationally ranked out of 88 teams was a huge accomplishment,” said Mrs. Fran Gandolfi Moran (’87), Debs coach. “Nationals also allowed us to see what other teams are doing. We got to see how we stood up to them competition wise, which helps us to progress in the future.”
UDA Nationals competition was a proud moment for all team members and reinforced
their season mottos, “Earned Not Given” and “Hard Work Pays Off.”
“I’ve been on this team since I was in eighth grade,
but I’ve never been prouder of my Debs,” said senior Virginia Babin, Deb
co-captain. “When I’m sitting and waiting to hear the results of a competition,
I just think of all the hard work and all the practices we’ve put in as a team,
but when they announce a win, none of it matters. We finally know we did
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.”