Light in its actual, symbolic and religious sense signaled the location for the recent St. Mary’s Dominican STREAM Soiree. Guests followed the luminosity cast from the school’s Veritas Tower to the campus, where the socializing and sights unfolded in the new Gayle and Tom Benson Science and Technology Complex.
Billed as an evening of entertainment — which translated as food, music, auction, facility tours, and meeting and greeting — Soiree focused on the STREAM initiative. An acronym for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math, it “continues St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s unique role in the formation of students who are believing thinkers and thinking believers.”
When guests arrived at the Gayle and Tom Benson Science Complex, the centerpiece of the STREAM Soiree, they were greeted by school President Dr. Cynthia A. Thomas. Additional notables were principal Carolyn Favre with husband Rusty; board members Jim Ryder, Robert Munch and Sharon Rodi with spouses Peggy, Terri and Mark; Tuition Raffle Co-Chairwomen Sheri Derbes and Kelly Bogart with Lew and Christian; Dr. Jimmie and Gayle Gaubert; Sandra Cordray; Seth and Jeanne Schaumburg; and John and Irene Cerise.
Also, Jeanne Dufour, Bryan and Donna Reuter, Brian and Susan Piglia, Steve and Julie Valdes, and Brian and Erin Rotolo. In between touring the facility (and eliciting such remarks as, “What an incredible place for students to experience learning!”), the Soiree set milled around the buffet presentation by Toulouse Gourmet Catering, relishing such items as chicken breast roulades, Asian noodle salad, and chocolate filled macaroons. The tables were skirted in school colors of black and white and white dendrobium orchids added the floral touch.
When it was time to thank sponsors, those named were The Azby Fund, Crescent Door & Hardware Inc., Jostens Inc., Schiro’s School Time Uniforms, and Glazer’s.
Uniformed students rose to the musical occasion. The Dominican Jazz Band played a mix of numbers (Earth, Wind and Fire hits invited dancing) and One Lan Band, consisting of Catherine Cerise, Lili Cerise and Lan Le, performed songs by Catherine, such as “Letters.”
Then there was the excitement of the live auction, which was masterfully led by Mark Romig. The “starred” item was the VIP Parking Pass, which the Danny Douglasses, the Kevin Nashes, the Jeff Messinas, and the above Derbeses, Schaumburgs, and Rodis bought. The six parking passes fetched $3,000 per spot from these top bidders. In the meantime, the Buy It Now featured commemorative glass sculpture by Michael Gaudet of Studio Inferno.
A second top auction item was a one-week stay in Florence, Italy, donated by Ron Blitch of Blitch/Knevel Architects. The “winning” bidders, the John and Irene Cerise family, will pack their bags.
In support of the Turnaround Arts initiative at ReNew Schools, folks flocked to Garden Party at the home of Dr. Rollie Norris in the Bayou St. John area. Everyone was wowed by the ambiance of the backyard, which was furthered by elegant lighting and NOLA Flora.
Additional features were the tasty dishes from Larkin Selman Catering, Lola’s, Bayou Breakfast, The Half Shell and Portobello Catering. Partygoers also enjoyed mint juleps and Sazeracs mixed by bartenders from The Rusty Nail.
The focus on music was paramount with Topsy Chapman and her band putting on an energetic and celebratory performance, and a “Trombone Shorty” autographed trombone as the highlight of the auction. At a choice moment, Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) and acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard addressed the audience about the power of arts education in schools.
Dozens circulated, shaking hands with host Dr. Rollie Norris; Megan Beyer, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; Kathy Fletcher, national director of Turnaround Arts; Cynthia Vance; and Brian Weimer, who chairs the board of directors of ReNEW Schools.
With words, such as “Helpful,” “Friendly” and “Trustworthy” on the top and bottom of the invitation, the contents read “The Parents of and Boy Scout Troop 100 (St. Pius X Church) cordially invite you to attend the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Ryan Armand Bourdais, Brendon Mark Corcoran, Nicholas Marc Klemm, Justin Armand Leveque (and) Amaury Mary Arnaud Regnard.” The St. Pius X School Gymnasium was the location for the ceremony, which was followed by dinner. Thanks for the latter went to Katie’s Restaurant & Bar, New Orleans Food & Spirits, Maurice French Pastries, and honoree Nicholas’ mom, Leslie Klemm, who made an extraordinary, symbolic cake.
Additional parents were Armand and Chrissy Bourdais, Brian and Bronwyn Corcoran, Ken (with the above Leslie) Klemm, Mel and Lauren Leveque, and Delegate to the French National Assembly Damien and Bertille Regnard. Guests included William and Verna Clapp, Donald and Patricia Baker, Lynn Leveque, Valerie Hogan, and Laura Waguespack.
Decorations were consistent with the red, white and blue theme of the Eagle Scout rank and included large Eagle balloons for centerpieces. Included, too, were memorabilia from the Scouts, as well as congratulatory letters from Pope Francis I, Vice President Joseph Biden and Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Garry Winchester, the District Advancement chairman of the Fleur de Lis District of the Southeast Louisiana Council, convened the Court of Honor on behalf of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Only about 2 percent of the youths who have joined the Boy Scouts of America since its founding in 1912 have earned the Eagle Scout rank, and only about 6 percent of those in Scouting currently earn the rank.
Among the notables in attendance were Scout executive Ernesto Carballo Jr. and Southeast Louisiana Council President Joseph S. Exnicios and their wives; the Reverends Jonathan P. Hemelt and Patrick Williams; state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty; Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman; Kyle E. Hanrahan, of the FBI; and, Gerald Schroder of the Sons of the American Revolution. All the while, congratulations were abundant to Ryan, Brendon, Nicholas, Justin and Amaury.