Senior Week Ignites Tradition, Brotherhood in Class of 2018

The class of 2018 gathers around the St. John Baptist de La Salle statue after March Through the Arch on Thursday, Aug. 17, to sing ‘Honneur a Toi.” (photo: Suzette Day)

(COVINGTON, La.)  Seniors at St. Paul’s participated in the Senior Barbecue, March Through the Arch, Senior Unity Day, and the Senior Ring Ceremony as part of Senior Week held Aug. 16-18 on campus. These ceremonies helped to bring the class of 2018 together as brothers and stewards of 106 years of tradition.

The week started off on Wednesday (Aug. 16) with the Senior Barbecue. Students were treated to hamburgers and hot dogs served by parents under the Wolf Dome.

The next day, all 164 seniors marched through the school arch and up LaSalle Drive, commemorating the Christian Brothers’ coming to the school in 1918. Prior to their march, some seniors took a moment to reflect upon the teachers and coaches who helped them get to this point. 

(Video by Carson Caulfield)

The traditional march caused Art History teacher and St. Paul’s alum Andrew Dart to recall his own March Through the Arch in 2002.

“It really signaled the entrance into senior year,” Dart said. “It’s been a couple weeks, we’ve been in school, but it wasn’t until that moment that we really became seniors officially in the eyes of students, parents, and the faculty members. It’s cool now to see this younger generation walking through and fulfilling that same destiny as people have for 100 years. I did it when I was a student; 100 years ago when students came to school they walked down that same road, and so just to see that visual lineage acted out every year is quite remarkable.”

The lineage of students is, indeed, uniquely tied together through March through the Arch, a ceremony which draws on classical symbolism.

“As an art historian, it’s interesting to me that we’re marching through an arch,” Dart said. “In ancient Roman times, victory processions would travel through arches to honor great deeds, great victories, or great celebrations. For 164 seniors to march through this arch that we have marks a great ceremony in their progression into their senior year.”

Afterwards, the seniors and their families were treated to a breakfast catered by Chick-fil-A of Highway 190, compliments of its franchise operator, Rick Gonzales. The rest of the day was spent in the theater as Senior Unity Day, where seniors discussed their feelings about St. Paul’s, their senior class and brotherhood. The event was defined by speeches from students such as senior Hanzala Hussain.

“We all gathered in the theater and took turns giving speeches,” Hussain said. “I talked, and it felt good to get up in front of the whole class and speak sincerely. We spoke of brotherhood, and I felt close to everyone. A lot of people talked about treating each other better. I don’t know how well we’ll enact what we said, but I hope we do.”

President Bro. Ray Bulliard, FSC, led the event and was moved by the experience.

“I’m not  sure I can put into words what these seniors experienced last Thursday (Aug. 17),” Bro. Ray said. “I was deeply moved by the level of trust exhibited by the seniors. I was deeply impressed by the level of caring displayed by the seniors. I was deeply moved by the entire experience. I’ve been running these since 1988, and this one in particular touched me greatly. I want to congratulate and thank the members of the senior class of 2018 for opening themselves up and being brother to one another and showing their love for each other and for the school.”

Senior Jared Theiler gives a speech to the St. Paul’s senior class in the theater as part of Senior Unity Day on Thursday. (Photo: Forge Mathes)

Despite 30 years of Senior Unity Day, this year’s event was special.

“I think there was a level of acceptance and a level of disclosure and a level of love that was taking place in that theater on Thursday that was not always duplicated at these experiences,” Bro. Ray said. “They told each other that they cared about each other. Several of them got up and said I love you, which is not always easy for boys to say in an all-male environment, yet they felt comfortable enough, and it certainly seemed sincere and genuine. They supported people who have had  a rough time during their careers here.”

The celebrations were capped by the Senior Ring Ceremony. The class filed into the Briggs Assembly Center surrounded by their parents and families. After the same mass service which was recited during the Eighth Grade Promotion Ceremony, Bro. Ray handed out a senior ring to each student. For students such as senior Jack Nunez, the event cemented the transition into senior year.

“When Bro. Ray shook my hand and handed me my ring, I felt victorious,” Nunez said. “Throughout high school you look up to the senior class, and now we’re here. I think the ring is really the mark of that; it makes it official and represents how far we’ve come and our places in the school and in the school’s history. We are the class of 2018, and that’s really exciting. The ring I’m using originally belonged to my dad (teacher and baseball coach Mic Nunez). He graduated in 1988, and having his ring ties me to my family and to the St. Paul’s tradition. It feels as if I’m part of something greater.”

The week ended with a senior holiday on Friday (Aug. 18), during which the class took a break from school to reflect on the events of the week.

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