(COVINGTON, La.) — St. Paul’s School hosted a ceremony this morning in the Briggs Assembly Center attended by students, faculty, staff, local dignitaries, and special guests from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to celebrate the school’s achievement of the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
The event was highlighted by a prayer service, addresses by members of the local and regional community, and a second-line of awards through the BAC backed by the SPS Brass Band. President Bro. Ray Bulliard, FSC, planned the celebration.
“The student body’s participation was fantastic,” Assistant Principal Joe Dickens, who went to Washington, D.C., to receive the award with Principal Trevor Watkins on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, said. “Every (dignitary) that was on that stage either visited me, Trevor, or Bro. Ray and were blown away by how well the student body participated. It’s a proud moment for this school, and I want to remind the students and faculty that this is a testament to hard work.”
The prayer service was led by Master of Ceremonies Luke Avanel, SPS senior, with reflections on the award offered by senior John Cresson and Bro. Ray. Cresson highlighted the meaning of the school being a Blue Ribbon School of excellence, and his point was reinforced throughout the ceremony through prayer and celebration. Other addresses were offered by Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools Jack Truxillo, and Bro. Jerry Vincent, FSC. Senior Kurt Thompson sang “Ave Maria” with piano accompaniment by Bro. Ken Boesch, FSC, to honor Mary in light of St. Paul’s achievement. The song was met with a standing ovation.
“Bro. Ray couldn’t have planned a better ceremony,” Dickens said. “He knows how to plan a celebration, and the thing that’s great about Bro. Ray is that he keeps our very unique Lasallian charisms at the heart of it. It was obviously rooted in faith (with) the prayer service.”
The highlight of the event for many students was the surprise announcement by Bro. Jerry that the Christian Brothers unanimously decided to give students the day off sometime next semester, and that Friday, Nov. 13, the students would have an early dismissal at 2 p.m.
“It’s a tradition of the Brothers, when something like this happens, to declare a holiday or an early dismissal,” Dickens said. “We decided to give the kids a three-day weekend when they need it most, in late April, to relax, recharge, and come back and kill final exams.”
Although many students will utilize the day to unwind and focus themselves for the odyssey that is final exams, Dickens insists that it is all part of the plan for success, saying that time off can allow students to reach their academic performance potential.
“It’s both (a celebration of) what our students and teachers accomplished and a chance to (allow students to) catch their breath a little bit,” Dickens said. “It’s so important to finish your year strongly. I’ve seen talented students get burned (out) at the end of the year and not do as well on their finals as they should. That could be the difference between getting that level of TOPS or not getting it, or getting that scholarship or not getting it.”
According to Watkins, this is the first time this type of holiday has been granted in quite some time.
“I think the last time this was granted was back in 1979 when I was a senior at St. Paul’s,” Watkins said in a message to parents. “Brother Charles Crouzet, one of the founding Brothers of St. Paul’s, on the occasion of his birthday, granted a similar holiday. Our reaction back then was similar. It was a great treat back then.”
Another declaration of a holiday came from Mayor Cooper, who declared Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, St. Paul’s School Blue Ribbon Day. This is the second time Cooper has dedicated a day to the honor of St. Paul’s achievements, the first being St. Paul’s Soccer Wolves Day after the team took down Jesuit for the State Championship and ended up being ranked first in the nation.
“It’s pretty cool,” junior Brandon Murphy, a member of the 2014-2015 nationally first placed Soccer Wolves said, “but the soccer team got it first.”
After the ceremony, the student body was treated to plentiful amounts of donuts under the Wolf Dome, sponsored by the Mothers’ Club, who also treated the faculty to a celebratory luncheon in the faculty lounge.
For more photos of the event and celebration, visit the St. Paul’s School Facebook page.