The Catholic Commentator

Service to others and especially to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge was the theme of the Diocesan Home & School Luncheon honoring Mother Seton award winners and Students of the Year.  

Superintendent Dr. Melanie Verges also used the opportunity to give an update on state of diocesan schools and goals that have been set. She explained that goals are updated annually “so that we keep our eyes on growth.”  

Verges noted that test scores on standardized tests are up, including the ACT Aspire test, which is in its second year. While challenging, she said the Aspire test is also a strong testing tool for students as they move up in grades and eventually have to take the ACT for college admissions.  

“We expect growth to continue to occur (on Aspire test scores),” said Verges. This ACT Aspire test also allows high school administrators to track students’ progress through 12th grade.  

In evangelizing hearts of students, Verges said schools are testing students’ knowledge of their faith with a national test called Assessment for Catechesis and Religious Education for fifth-graders, eighth-graders and 11th-graders. And, putting that knowledge to practice through service hours was another strong point, according to Verges. CSO reported more than 200,000 service hours were logged by students during the 2016-17 school year.  

Verges reported that the CSO’s special education program is steadily growing with 92 students currently enrolled. She also noted that diocesan schools have become more accessible to students thanks to the state scholarship program and the student tuition donation program.  

“So, our total has grown to 1160 students who would not otherwise be able to attend a Catholic school,” said Verges.   

Bishop Robert W. Muench congratulated the winners and thanked everyone who “assists in the work of Jesus himself,” including all of the clergy, religious, administrators and “all the people who work so hard to make Jesus present in the places where we pray, where we worship, where we teach, where we inspire, where we serve, where we love.”  

“I think the academic picture doesn’t cover the whole story,” said Bishop Muench. “We can have students that excel because of their brilliance or hard work in the learning of the aspects of the secular subjects, but what we cannot grade is the personal formation and growth in the person of Jesus Christ, in Jesus’ presence and Jesus’ teachings and in the gift of the Holy Spirit that motivates and inspires and graces everything we see. Jesus himself did not convert everybody and we are not Jesus, but each of us has a role given by God to serve God by serving others.” 

Home & School Association president Renee Tullier said the Mother Seton Award honors the top volunteer at diocesan schools and the luncheon, attended by more than 250 people, was another way to celebrate all of their hard work.  

Winners of the Mother Seton Awards are Micah Crochet, Ascension Catholic School; Jodie Johnson, Catholic High School; Alice Boudreaux, Catholic School of Pointe Coupee; Toni Maurer, Holy Family School; Melissa Scott, Holy Ghost School; Janette Patanella, Mater Dolorosa School; Jay LeBlanc, Most Blessed Sacrament School; Wanda Gawarecki, Our Lady of Mercy School; Sherion Vincent, Redemptorist St. Gerard School; John Musso, Sacred Heart of Jesus School; Michelle Cambias, St. Aloysius School; Jessica Weiner, St. Alphonsus Ligouri School; Jamie Lewis, St. Elizabeth School; Earlett Buckley, St. Francis Xavier School; Mark Warrington, St. George School; Aimee McLeod, St. Jean Vianney School; Ann Albarado, St. John the Evangelist School; Kevin Raiford, St. Joseph School; Gina Contini, St. Joseph’s Academy; Sheila Gordon, St. Jude the Apostle School; Lindsai Harris, St. Louis King of France School; Tara Button, St. Michael the Archangel High School; Stephen Poche, St. Peter Chanel School; Matt Pryor, St. Theresa of Avila School/St. John Primary; Ashley Sandage, St. Thomas Aquinas High School; and, Joanne Harvey, St. Thomas More School.  

The 2018 Student of the Year Diocese Award winners are Caroline Grace Beard, fifth grade, Holy Ghost School; Isabella Maria LoBue, eighth grade, St. John the Evangelist School; and, Evan Patrick Dille, 12th grade, Catholic High School.