My elementary education ended without fanfare in 1963 when I finished the eighth grade at St. Raphael the Archangel School. I simply said goodbye to classmates and counted the days until I started high school. But times have changed.

This month, my granddaughter, Anna Mae Wood, leaves St. Paul’s Episcopal School as a member of the class of 2014, joining fellow eighth-grade students for grand graduation ceremonies.

I admit to worrying if this grammar-school hoopla will diminish the importance of high school and college graduations. My fears were unfounded.

On the morning of May 13, I sat in a St. Paul’s pew with Anna Mae and her parents during the “baccalaureate Eucharist” leading up to the graduation ceremony. The experience punctuated the efforts of elders who are helping youngsters prepare for adulthood.

Charlene Schwank, St. Paul’s head of school, reminded the students that lessons taught over the years have addressed more than reading, writing and 21st-century technology. She assured them that asking questions will lead to answers as they continue their education. She told them to “take the high road” when faced with decisions and that it is “OK to fail but not OK to quit.”

“Don’t let pride get in the way,” Schwank said. “And remember your roots.”

Anna Mae has a head start when it comes to remembering her roots. Her great-great-grandmother, Anna Mae Hicks Porche, was a teacher in Oklahoma in the early 1900s who rode to a one-room schoolhouse on horseback. The elder Anna Mae held the younger in her arms before she died at 102. How proud that prairie teacher would have been to sit beside her namesake at the graduation ceremony at St. Paul’s.

I know she would echo Schwank’s message and join me in wishing the best to this year’s class of 19 eighth-grade students: Emma Benson, Emilie Blaise, Myles Boudreaux, Kaitlyn Calabresi, Emily Candies, Connor Finney, Mary Grace Granito, Ally Krouse, Martin Lee, Caity Martin, Joey Moraitis, Ellie Nick, Hayden Queyrouze, Andrew Quirk, Justin Stockman, Amber Talbert, Kristen Waguespack, Hunter Wainwright and Anna Mae Wood.

Kinetic sculptures, videos focus on extinction

“Whitewashed” by Joseph Gregory Rossano is a new exhibition opening Thursday, May 22, at the Isaac Delgado Fine Arts Gallery at 615 City Park Ave. on the Delgado Community College campus.

Summer gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and admission is free. There will be a closing reception and artist talk from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 28.

“Whitewashed” was originally curated at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle in 2013 and has received widespread acclaim. The exhibition brings together developments in art and science through a display of kinetic sculptures and video projections, featuring links to essays by leading researchers in evolutionary biology.

Rossano presents a series of specimen-style boxes with a portrait of a threatened or extinct animal on the cover that he has painted with tar, then overlaid with white. The white color scheme references the loss of polar ice and serves to convey that scientific truths have been systematically “whitewashed” by a culture focused on exclusively human needs.

For information, contact gallery Director Brenda Hanegan at (504) 671-6377 or at

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at