Category Archives: Schools

Loyola’s Villalba Brings Faith to Life

by Lisa Cooper

Often referred to as the happiest place on campus, the classroom of religion teacher Marcos Villalba is where freshman Flyers are learning to ARISE. An acronym Villalba has taught his students from their first day, it represents the life and conduct of a true follower of Christ. Each day, Villalba inspires his students to Aspire for greatness in all they undertake, offering each thought and deed to the Lord; Respect the dignity of all by treating each other as divinely created and worthy of that honor; Interact with courage and joy by heartily participating in class discussions without fear of criticism; Serve out of love by helping each other and completing service hours in the spirit of humility and charity; and Edify one another in Christ, serving as a witness of Christ by building each other up instead of tearing others down.

Each semester, classes vote and award five students with an award for those who best exemplify the virtues of ARISE. To help each student on this journey, Villalba uses the YouBible and YouCat daily, having students read, take notes, and, most importantly, ask and answer questions.

The innovation and inspiration in Villalba’s classroom don’t stop there. He has instituted a class-ranking system through which classes compete against each other for the highest average in order to win a pizza party at the end of each semester.
“I knew that to get guys involved, there must include some level of competition,” says Villalba, “and I wanted a way to get the students to work together for the greater good of them all.”

In addition to the class average, students compete for the highest number of golden crosses. “Just like a teacher may put a golden star on a paper, I put golden crosses on the tests of students who make 100 percent.” The winning class gets a dessert party at the end of the semester. A glance at the board where class rankings and golden crosses are listed indicates that students have enthusiastically embraced this challenge.

What may be most impressive about Villalba’s teaching style is his ability to take even the mundane tasks like cleaning up the classroom after each period and infuse them with purpose. Each class gets a participation grade, and any student who leaves books out of place or trash on the floor loses points for his class. What’s more is that the Bibles in Villalba’s class are treated with particular honor.

“By ensuring that they are never left under other books or on the floor,” Villalba says, “I can use even a small thing to teach students to respect God’s word.”

The students’ favorite perk of Villalba’s class is his willingness to recognize their ideas and input on how to make the class engaging. “Every class has a president and vice president that they elect,” Villalba explains. “They are responsible for coming up with ideas about how we can learn God’s word without having to be confined to the classroom.”

His students have participated in potluck Bible studies, gone together to see Paul, Apostle of Christ at the theater, and enjoyed class at various locations on and off campus. Students also participate in a unique way by contributing to a class music play list that Villalba allows during certain times during class. During Lent, students opted to give up their play lists to learn more about the saints – a practice that has been so well received it has continued through Easter. Instead of their music, students eagerly listen to audio-dramas depicting the lives of the saints in real stories about their lives.

Villalba’s credits his love for Christ and his desire to communicate that love to students for his success in the classroom, and students recognize and appreciate his passion. Finding freshmen who are eager to talk about how much they are learning from Villalba is easy, but one statement reoccurs among them all: “We just love Mr. Villalba – he’s the best.”

Community Members Share Professions at SJS Career Day

Dr. Steven Boniol, Oncologist/Hematologist at CHRISTUS Cancer Treatment Center, shows students some of the imaging he uses to diagnose and treat patients.

On April 6, St. Joseph middle school students spent their morning learning about various careers. Doctors, dentists, construction managers and bankers – to name a few – were on hand to present to groups of students, giving them a glimpse into the life of each presenter.

“Our students loved the career day event. We are so grateful to all the community members who took time to be here and open our students’ eyes to so many potential careers,” said Principal Dr. Judith McGimsey. “It is important that middle school students are thinking about the future and planning for the path they want to take.”

Students rotated to different stations; at each they were informed about the education requirements, day-to-day tasks, and some interesting things about each career. The adults encouraged students to ask questions, and many brought props that students enjoyed. Dr. Angela Cush-John, pediatrician at Mid-City Pediatrics in Shreveport, brought x-rays of a broken arm. Dr. Jennifer Henley, D.D.S., walked students through the rigors of dental school and showed off several tools and instruments she uses in her daily practice.

SJS is so thankful to all the professionals who were there to share their specialties with our students.

Dismuke Selected for Summit at John Hopkins University

St. Frederick High School student, Alyssa Dismuke, has been selected to participate in a Student Leadership Summit at John Hopkins University this summer. Alyssa was nominated by Mr. Dan Lindow because of Alyssa’s academic dedication and interest in neurosurgery. Alyssa was 1 out of a 140 plus students selected from around the world to attend this summit.

Recently, Alyssa won an Oratorical Speech contest hosted by the City of Monroe. Alyssa was invited by Mayor Jamie Mayo to recite her speech at a Black History Month Program in Monroe. Her award winning speech is titled, “Stop the Violence.”

Jesus the Good Shepherd School Celebrated Holy Week

Jesus the Good Shepherd School 5th and 6th grade classes carried on the tradition of performing the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week in  JGS Gym. The reproduction of the Passion of Jesus Christ was reenacted with great reverence, spirit and devotion by our JGS students. JGS is extremely proud of their students and teachers who put so much time and preparation into the production each year! They are thankful to be able to share this blessing with the rest of the school and community.

St. John Berchmans School Reigns as 10 Time Science Olympiad State Champions!


by Mary Simpson

The St. John Berchmans Science Olympiad team won the State Science Olympiad competition held in Hammond, LA in March of this year – in fact, they have won it 10 times in a row! The team will represent the state of Louisiana when they head to Ft. Collins, CO, to compete in the National Science Olympiad Competition in May.

The National Science Olympiad was started 30 years ago as a grassroots gathering of science teachers. The short version of their mission is “… Improve the quality of K-12 science education, increase interest in science, create a technologically literate workforce and provide recognition for outstanding achievement by both students and teachers.” The achievement of that mission is through the tournaments, incorporating Science Olympiad into classroom curriculum and attending professional development workshops. Over 7,800 teams from across the country compete in invitational, regional, state and national tournaments. Each team consists of 15 members. Teams compete in 23 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) events.

St. John Berchmans School (SJB) began Science Olympiad 12 years ago with Jo Cazes, principal at the time. Along with the late Norma Waters and Amy Knight, they coached and developed student skills to compete in Science Olympiad. This commitment to STEM was pervasive throughout the whole school. SJB not only became a STEM school, but it is now a STREAM school (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math).

When Cazes came to SJB, it was a time of transition. She brought the Science Olympiad program to give the students a “win.” That win began the second year they competed and has not stopped since.

Amy Knight is one of the coaches who started as a parent, and then not only became involved with Science Olympiad, she became the middle school science teacher at SJB. For her, the best thing about Science Olympiad is, “Being able to expose our students, from our small school to a nationally recognized program.” She went on to say, “the material they learn is at the high school level.” Many of the students take the knowledge and skills they learn and receive college scholarships. Knight added, “I am proud of how much effort our students put in to win medals and State Championship titles. They earn that trophy every year. It isn’t just given to us.”

Students have to try out for the Science Olympiad team. They join Science Olympiad for many reasons. Reese Mekelburg, a sixth grader, who is new to Science Olympiad, wanted to join the team as soon as he was old enough. He loves science. He loves to tinker and figure things out. His mother, Rene, loves the experience of the kids creating friendships through the different age groups.

“Seeing the mentors guide and help these kids is a wonderful experience. They give up so much of their time to help these kids. As a parent, this is a great benefit not only educationally, but socially as he learns to work with others.”

SJB reaps the benefits of Science Olympiad through the implementation of STEM curriculum. Students who participate have much to offer in the classroom. Since middle school science is collaborative, other students get to share in the knowledge and skills of the Olympians. While the competition outside of school is done by the middle schoolers, the elementary students participate in a mini Science Olympiad in the spring. Third, fourth and fifth grade students create projects in various STEM areas and compete in an afternoon full of science. Students learn how to collaborate and solve a multitude of scientific challenges.

SJB proudly displays 10 banners as state Science Olympiad state champions in the school’s multi-room. Students who have graduated from SJB have continued studying science in many areas, including graduating college with engineering degrees, attending medical school and conducting research in other scientific fields. Students are prepared academically to work hard and implement the Scientific Method.

The SJB Science Olympiad team will be traveling to the national tournament on May 17, 2018. Please keep this team in your prayers for a safe journey. There is a current fundraising drive as parents pay the cost of travel for their children. If you would like to contribute to this program, please send donations to the school office at St. John Berchmans School, 947 Jordan Street, Shreveport.

St. Frederick High School Students Get a Dose of Reality from “Day with the Doctors”

Ethan Brister, Grant Johnson, Jonathan Roy, Zachary Shaw, and Gabriela Trejo spent a day at the LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine in Shreveport to participate in the Day with the Doctors program. These students were among 60 students from North Louisiana chosen to spend an entire day with medical staff and students at LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine.

Day with the Doctors is a one-day, interactive program that provides Louisiana high school students with an opportunity to experience and observe a day’s activities on a medical school campus. Students interact with faculty and medical students, discuss health careers and medical school, as well as learn basic medical diagnostic skills. Hands-on training includes: learning how to listen to breath and heart sounds, checking reflexes, suturing bananas and improving communication and listening skills in working with patients.

LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine faculty members and staff were available to answer questions regarding educational prerequisites, medical school admissions, medical school costs and personal preparation for the commitment of a health career.

This unique health career enticement program is coordinated and sponsored by Bayou North AHEC and LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine to educate future health professionals about the demand for healthcare professionals in rural and underserved areas of Louisiana.

Student participation is open to high school juniors and seniors residing in North Louisiana, who have a 3.0 grade point average or better.

Jesus the Good Shepherd School Celebrates Teachers

Jesus Good Shepherd School celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week, March 5-9. Each day was filled with meals, sweet treats and goodies donated by JGS families, friends, parishioners and local businesses.

On Thursday, the teachers enjoyed an off-campus meal at The Warehouse #1 and received goody bags with personalized JGS raincoats. It was a wonderful week! The teachers and staff of JGS are truly thankful for their family and community.

St. Joseph Wins 2nd Overall at Regional Science Fair

Eleven St. Joseph School students competed at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 2, tying for second place overall in the middle school team division. At the Regional Science Fair, which includes public and private school students from Caddo, Bossier, DeSoto, Red River and Webster parishes, each student competes individually, but also as part of their school team.

After placing individually in their categories at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair, four students from St. Joseph School will compete in the Louisiana State Science and Engineering Fair in Baton Rouge.

Sixth grader Brooke Tuminello won second place in Material Sciences for her project testing whether temperature affects the strength of a magnet. Eve Burcz, seventh grade, examined the effect that both lunging and flat work have on a horse’s heart rate, earning second place in the Animal Sciences category. Tuminello and Burcz will represent SJS in their categories at the State competition.

Seventh graders Colin Lirette and Nico Sangster won first and second place, respectively, in the Plant Science category at the regional competition. Sangster presented the results to his question of whether a plant grows faster if it has earthworms in its soil. Lirette’s project, “Which type of wood makes the hottest fire?,” scored in the top 10% of all participants, qualifying him for Broadcom MASTERS which is the nations most prestigious Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competition for middle school students. The Broadcom MASTERS, a program founded and produced by the Society for Science & the Public, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future.

SJB Students Win at Regional Science Fair and Name Students of the Year

Fourth grader Nicholas Kampert placed 1st in the Animal Sciences category and his brother, 6th grader Will Kampert, placed 2nd in the Energy: Chemical category. Will is advancing to the State competition.

SJB Student of the Year Recipients: Ava Bauer, 5th, and Tiffany Siharath, 8th.
Outstanding students in the 5th and 8th grades are recognized.

Our Lady of Fatima Jump Rope Champ

Josiah Menyweather and Noah Harper won the jump rope challenge during Our Lady of Fatima School’s recent spring fundraiser kick-off.