The Catholic Commentator 

Five days before the start of the school year, Paula Fabre, principal of St. Francis Xavier School in Baton Rouge, was providing lunch for teachers and staff as they decorated and organized their classrooms.

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Isaiah Thomas signs his name on the roster posted on the door of his fourth-grade class at St. Francis Xavier School. This is his first year at the school. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator


“It all comes together so beautifully. We’re so excited we just can’t stand it. I love it. I like everything,” she said.

Newly decorated bulletin boards posted around the school include one near the office, which displayed the diocesan theme “Like Clay in the Hand of the Potter.”

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St. Thomas Aquinas Diocesan Regional High School freshman Jonah Schmitt looks over at his new classmates during the first day of school at STA. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator


Pointing to another billboard, located in the hallway outside of the school library, Fabre explained that she had decorated it.

“Now, I can’t let these teachers have all the fun!” she said with a grin.

LaKeisha Scott, who teaches third- and fourth-grade math and science, is one of three new teachers at St. Francis.

“It’s a beautiful Christian school. It’s very peaceful and very family oriented. And, everybody works together to get the job done,” she said.”

On the first day of school, Aug. 7, Fabre arrived at the school early to make sure everything was ready. Less than an hour later, students and parents, many carrying bags of classroom supplies, began to filter in. Fabre was there to greet them with hugs, smiles and enthusiasm.

“Good morning!” she said to third-grade student Jada Smith. “Wait til you see the room!”

Jada explained her morning routine.

“I got up early and I put my clothes on and brushed my teeth, and then I got in the car and then we came on to school,” she said.

Eighth-grade student Allie Young has been attending St. Francis since kindergarten. She was one of the first students to arrive. She said she loves her school.

“You have field trips. You can spend time with family, friends and teachers, and you can have fun,” she said.

Wally and Miling Washington helped carry in classroom supplies of paper towels and sanitizer for their three children, Mikalen, fifth grade; Mikenzee, fourth grade; and, Mason, first grade. Miling Washington said “the family atmosphere” at St. Francis is what draws them to the school.

Eighth-grader Alana Buckley agreed.

“What I like about St. Francis Xavier is the home environment,” she said. “It feels like home.”

Sisters Jaleigha Turner, fifth grade, and Madison Turner, fourth grade, also love their school.

“Because I get to learn about new things and I get to learn about bullying,” said Jaleigha.

“They taught me things I didn’t know,” said Madison. “We get to learn things about Jesus.”

For the Henderson family, the first day of school was full of anticipation. Di’aunestie, seventh grade; Dishannon, sixth grade; and, William, second grade, are starting their first year at St. Francis. Though the night before was busy with getting uniforms and backpacks ready, the morning ran smoothly.

“They (were) up before the alarm clock,” laughed their mom, Lacy Henderson. “It was exciting.”

“We hope to have a good year,” said Fabre. “We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”

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St. Francis Xavier principal Paula Fabre greets second-grader Jawanza Shorter, Jr. on the first day of school, Aug. 7th. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator


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Stirring up a nest of fun and smiles during the first day of school at St. Alphonsus School in Greenwell Springs Aug. 10 are, from left, SAS students Lane Billings, Anthony Igiede (wearing the school’s Hornet mascot costume) and Owen Jeansonne. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator

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Students at St. Alphonsus School in Greenwell Springs wave hello to the new school year on Aug. 10. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator

An exuberant Ava Alston expresses her emotions during the first day of school for freshmen at St. Thomas Aquinas. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator

A statement by Dr. Melanie Verges, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Baton Rouge

Catholic schools serve families by providing children with excellent programs that focus on the growth of the whole child and a positive culture in which students build life-long relationships. The 2017-18 school year will be one in which the tradition of excellence is continued.  We look forward to experiences that evangelize hearts as students discover the joy of the Gospel through religious instruction and service projects, educate minds as students are challenged and supported in rigorous and relevant curriculum, encourage talent as students have the opportunity to develop gifts in athletics, arts and various special interest clubs and embrace the future as schools provide 21st century learning practices for their students. We are grateful to all educators, staff, board members, parents, community members and clergy who give of themselves to continue the ministry of Catholic education in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.