Category Archives: Schools

Flyers Make Hurricane Relief a Personal Mission

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by Lisa Cooper

Loyola Flyers strive each year to fulfill the charge to be men and women for others.  One of the most significant efforts toward this end is the hurricane relief sent to Catholic schools and dioceses most affected by these storms’ destruction. But this year’s efforts hit home in a tangible way as one of their own was directly affected by Hurricane Maria, which swept across Puerto Rico.

Spanish teacher and Puerto Rican native Arelis Soberal’s family lives in Puerto Rico. When Maria hit, Flyers went into action raising money and gathering gift cards to help Soberal’s family and others ravaged by the storm get the supplies they need.

Stephanie Johnson, Academic Assistant Principal, said “I think I can speak for the faculty as well as myself when I say that all of the relief efforts at Loyola have been important to me, but having such a close proximity to someone directly affected by this tragedy has really made it something we all take more personally.”

This year Loyola is working directly with Soberal’s family and others in order to get them the help they need. Hearing Soberal’s accounts of what is happening to her family and to others as they try to recover from the devastation of Maria has helped everyone in the Loyola family connect on a much more personal level with the suffering of others.

Conditions in Puerto Rico have made getting relief to those in need very difficult. Soberal explained that roads and bridges have been washed away by the storm, leaving many to travel by boat. Even in places where the roads are passable, food, water and gas are scarce, and help is not reaching people fast enough. Eighty-five percent of the island is without power, so supermarkets where food and water were once readily accessible are now closed.
Soberal said even the small things we take for granted become major obstacles as “ATM’s and banks are closed, so people have no access to their money in order to purchase supplies from the few stores that are open.”  Because many gas pumps are not working, gas has become scare as well. “People are waiting in lines for hours to get the limit of $15 worth of gas,” said Soberal.

Health care is suffering as well. “Without power, medicine that needs to be refrigerated can’t be, ventilators can’t work and pharmacies can’t distribute medicine,” explained Soberal.

“We heard on the Puerto Rican news that one hospital on the west coast had to be evacuated because the stench from the morgue was starting to move into the hospital, and a children’s hospital was about to run out of gas for the generators and couldn’t get more,” she said.

She went on to explain that those living in metropolitan areas are receiving more help than those in the outlying areas of the island. “The island is in bankruptcy,” says Soberal, “with a government that has never seen or prepared for a storm of this magnitude—and no logistics in place to tackle the resulting situations. The first response was chaotic—rescuers just trying to save lives in the areas that were flooded. Then came the realization that you can’t move things when your truck drivers can’t get to the port of San Juan. It’s been a mess.”

Although being separated from their families has been hard on Soberal and her husband, she has been greatly moved by the love and compassion her Loyola family has extended to her. “I can’t express my feelings,” she says, “I never thought the school would do something like this… it means so much to me.”

When Soberal was asked about the morale of her family under such trying conditions, she pointed to what she loves most about her culture: “Puerto Ricans can find the good in any situation. Yes, we are out of food and water, but neighbors are sharing. Yes, we do not have electricity, but now children are in the streets playing, running and getting to know each other. In reality, neither my family nor any Puerto Rican family will tell their loved ones in the States the real situation. They will always say, ‘We are okay. Do not worry. We got it!’ They are a group of people who trust in God and have their faith to get them through.

Soberal did make one simple request: “Please continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico and for those of us who are an ocean away. Maria not only destroyed the physical land of Puerto Rico, but also it destroyed the hearts of five million Puerto Ricans who live throughout the world.”

Warriors Hold eGaming Party

by Jennifer Patterson

Fifty students came to St. Frederick High School on Saturday, September 30, to participate in their first eGaming Party. Students brought TVs, computer monitors, games and extra controllers to help make the event a great success.

When Principal Blair David approached Jennifer Patterson, the schools religion teacher, about sponsoring an eSports Club, she had no idea what it was about. She hoped for at least 10 student members and ended up with 23 students on the team.

The St. Frederick Warriors will soon be competing against teams in other states in eSports tournaments. eSports has proven to be a nation-wide sport offering a healthy and competitive environment through an online platform that empowers high school gamers.

According to the High School eSports League (HSEL), studies have shown that 40% of students nationally do not participate in extra-curricular activities.This amounts to about 8 million students in the U.S.

eSports are a great opportunity for kids who may not participate in athletics or fine arts by giving them another avenue to be active in their school. It allows these students an outlet to engage with other students outside of an academic setting. Current league rules require that students be 13 years old and maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher in order to compete. The program has given students a reason to keep their grades up and develop a deeper connection with their school and their peers. It also helps them hone their communication skills with games that require constant coordination with their teammates. It’s a true sport that requires skills such as teamwork, collaboration, managing victory and defeat, setting goals, practicing and managing schoolwork.

Warrior eSports will compete online against other eSports teams across the country both regionally and nationally.  The Warriors practice Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for two hours in the computer room.

Currently, St. Frederick High School has the only eSports team registered with the High School eSports League in Louisiana.

More than 30 colleges currently offer $14 million in eSports scholarships. Some of the country’s best players now earn salaries to game professionally.
The season officially kicked off on Monday, October 16. Subscribe to our Twitch channel “Warrior_eSports” to tune in and watch the matches.

Balloon Rosary at St. Joseph School

With parish priests on retreat, St. Joseph Catholic School students used their regular Friday Mass time on October 6 to say a rosary in anticipation of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. With the help of the PTO, middle school students assembled a rosary made out of helium balloons and released it into the sky at the conclusion. Later that morning, the rosary was spotted by an SJS Family touching down in north Shreveport, over 12 miles from its starting point.

Principal Dr. Judith McGimsey said of the rosary, “In addition to the event being so meaningful to our student body and church family, our hope is that someone saw the rosary in the air, and it was a prayer or intention answered.”

SJB Visits Papa Simpson’s Farm

Each year at St. John Berchmans School, students in Pre-K3 and 1st grade take a trip to Papa Simpson’s Farm. There they have the opportunity to learn about farm life by holding and petting chicks and baby goats, planting pumpkin seeds, feeding the animals and even milking a cow! The farm workers even teach the children about what happens to the milk after it’s taken from the cows and the everyday groceries that milk goes into. This field trip is a hands-on way for students to see up close what they learn about in the classroom.

Junior Altar Society Implemented at JGS

Jesus the Good Shepherd School has implemented a new Junior Altar Society. Every Friday after the school Mass, members of the Junior Altar Society will assist the ladies of the church Altar Society in helping clean and maintain their beautiful church. Student volunteers will rotate every nine weeks. We thank them for being good role models!

OLF Student Won Coloring Contest

Paiyton Fairley, a second grader at Our Lady of Fatima School, won a $75 Toys-R-Us gift card in the Sunny 98.3 coloring contest.

SVdP Walk for the Poor in Monroe

The faithful gathered together in Monroe for the Walk for the Poor in support of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Nearly 200 children joined this year’s walk!

SJS Alumni Celebrated 40 Year Reunion

The St. Joseph School 8th Grade Class of 1977 gathered together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their graduation. Over half of the graduating class gathered for Mass, then took a tour of the school with current SJS student council members. Alumni then gathered for dinner and a night of reminiscing. If you’re interested in planning a reunion at St. Joseph School, contact Greg Beauclair, at 318-865-3585 or gbeauclair@sjsfalcons.org.

Loyola Faculty and Students Read Immaculée’s Survival Story

by Lisa Cooper

In its second year, Loyola College Prep’s One School One Book initiative is enjoying great success. Over the summer, all students, faculty and staff at Loyola read Left to Tell, Immaculée Ilibaziga’s story of survival and forgiveness during the Rwandan genocide.

“The One School One Book initiative has played an important part in promoting unity in the school,” said Stephanie Johnson, Academic Assistant Principal at Loyola. “It provides common ground and talking points for students, administrators, coaches and teachers when they have all read the same book.”

Whether discussing the historical aspects of Immaculée’s story or using her narrative as the backdrop against which character is assessed, students and teachers find Left to Tell both compelling and relevant.

Johnson chose the book because she wanted, “the message of forgiveness to resonate with students. My hope was that students see that by clinging to her faith, Immaculée was able not only to persevere, but also to find healing and a renewed purpose.”

Students have responded well to the book and hope to learn more from the author during Immaculée’s speaking engagement at Loyola. Jake Watts says of Immaculée, “She is a true image of a miracle. I loved reading about her strength and how she overcame the hardship of the genocide and of losing her family.”

Teachers Receive Pair of Grants at SJS

St. Joseph Catholic School’s second grade teaching team is starting the year off right with a pair of grants. Katherine Suckle received a grant to purchase a class pet from “Pets in the Classroom.” “Second grade is a big year for learning responsibility. I hope to encourage responsibility in a fun way by having a class pet. As part of our classroom jobs, students will take turns being the ‘veterinarian’ where it will be their daily responsibility to take care of our class hamster.” said Suckle.

New teacher Jodi Hyman was awarded the “One Class at a Time” grant from KTBS at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and used the funds in her new classroom to purchase fitness equipment, including yoga mats, jump ropes, balance balls and stepping stones (used for balance and agility).
“Teaching children to enjoy fitness now while they’re young allows them the opportunity to have a positive outlook on exercising into adolescence, and through adulthood. I applied for this grant because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of my students’ health and encourage healthy habits.”