For the past few months at the Upper School, behind the closed doors of the Drama Room, a flurry of activity has taken place in preparation for tonight's premiere of this year’s school musical - Annie. Singing, dancing, building sets, and learning of lines all come to fruition this weekend. It was no small feat for our students to work together to create this amazing show. The level of commitment is commendable. Also, kudos to Mr. Coffin, Mrs. Neinast, Mrs. Lucas, and Mrs. Todora who spent countless hours guiding our wonderful actors and crew and making sure they kept up with their schoolwork.

As you know, the arts are essential to the school experience and I am proud of STA’s commitment to them in all forms. At STA, students have opportunities to sing, play instruments, paint, create pottery, dance, and do a host of other activities both inside and outside of the classroom. The arts also teach our students innumerable lessons—practice makes perfect, small differences can have large effects, and collaboration leads to creativity. The arts also teach children that there are several paths to take when approaching problems and that all problems can have more than one solution. STA is highly successful when it comes to arts education.

Therefore, I enthusiastically invite you to come out this weekend or next and experience some of the best musical theater this side of 42nd Street!

Every year around this time a tangible buzz develops in the STA community. The school’s largest fundraiser, our annual auction, becomes a reality. The success of this event depends on the generosity of our donors and the proceeds from the evening will directly benefit the St. Thomas Aquinas School community. In the past, the proceeds from the auction have enhanced our academic curriculum, updated our technology, modernized our facility, and supported the school in many other ways.

And this probably goes without saying, but it is also a great party!

Each year the theme is announced and the excitement builds. During my tenure at STA, I have had to lead a flash mob for Funky Town, dressed as James Bond for Shaken Not Stirred, resurrected seersucker for Haute South, and the list goes on and on…as did the Beat Goes On (see picture). Every single auction has been extremely successful. Thank you! As the community gave generously, memories were created, new friendships were made, and a great time was had by all. This year will be no different.

That being said, the amount of planning and work that goes into this event is tremendous! So thank you to this year’s entire auction committee, led by our wonderful chairs: Ashley Carothers, Michelle DeVore, and Tina Kimbell. Also, a big thank you to everyone who served on one of the many committees as well as everyone in the STA Advancement Office.

I am confident that STA on the Bayou, A Louisiana Saturday Night, will be one for the record books and I can’t wait to see you tomorrow night. Swamp Chic…hmmm. I’ll figure it out!

Laissez le bon temps rouler!



When I was kid growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts (birthplace of basketball), the dedicated Sisters of St. Joseph would remind us of Lent by reciting the following verse to the class: “Lent, Lent, it's time to repent!” In retrospect, I am fairly confident that my understanding of repentance missed the mark. I knew Lent meant rice bowls, Stations of the Cross, fish on Friday, and probably no candy for a few weeks. Perhaps this sounds familiar. But as I grew in my faith, so did my understanding of the sacredness of this season.

This past Wednesday, we began the season of Lent. Honestly, sometimes I have looked at Lent as an opportunity to embrace a personal improvement plan. It is not. Lent is the most sacred season of the year for Catholics because we prepare to remember and celebrate the greatest mysteries of our faith: the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

In this season, in order to prepare our hearts and minds, the Church offers us different ways to turn away from sin and towards Jesus through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. How will your family keep these practices for forty days?

As a Catholic school, we share with you the mission to instill a love of God and build a strong faith in your children. And some things still haven’t changed - we will distribute rice bowls, attend the Stations of the Cross, and refrain from meat on Fridays. However, and perhaps more importantly, we will be modeling and teaching the students the reasons we have certain practices. We will explain that each day of Lent symbolizes one of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness. We will give them the opportunity to question, to pray, and to grow. My prayer is that we do this together, school and family.

Of all the classrooms I get to visit, it is the Pre-K classes, tucked away at the Lower School that give me pause. Pre-kindergarten is not for the faint of heart. Managing to teach, encourage, and nurture a class of four-year-olds, all with distinct personalities and boundless energy is no small feat. Indeed it is a huge responsibility, one that mandates passion, organization, patience, the ability to adapt, a sense of humor, and above all the ability to love each child.

I can tell you firsthand that our youngest Wildcats are curious, easily distracted, both independent and dependent, and are amazing gifts entrusted to our care. Luckily, our Pre-K team is the most dedicated, hardworking, loving group of professionals I know. If asked to go the extra mile, they go 10! For that, I am extremely thankful.

Each year, STA nominates an educator for Teacher of the Year. At a school as large as STA it can be daunting to choose one out of so many exemplary teachers. This year, as you may know, one of our Pre-K teachers was chosen by the faculty for Teacher of the Year: Mary Beth Bland! If you know Mary Beth, then I need to say no more. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein is "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy." Mary Beth and the entire Pre-K team take this very seriously. On any day, one can see students exploring, inquiring, and experimenting, giving them the foundation needed to be successful. Joy is awakened.

My hope is you can remember a teacher who inspired you to take risks, instilled a love of learning, guided you in being the best person you can be, and awakened your joy. For us, STA is a better school because of Teacher of the Year, Mary Beth Bland. Lucky Us!


Millions of adults of a certain age (mine) remember the Dick and Jane books. For me, they were the first introduction to books, to stories that didn't appear on radio or television or in the movies. Dick and Jane and I think they had a dog named Spot, lived an idyllic American life in a quiet neighborhood, uncomplicated by all the complications of living in 2023. These books were known as basal readers, textbooks designed to teach reading. Looking back, they were heavy on sight words and lite on phonics. However, they did the trick and I discovered my love of the written word.

On a recent visit to the lower school, I popped into a first-grade reading class and I saw that same love of reading alive and well in the students. While Dick and Jane are enjoying retirement and have been replaced by Dogman and Elephant and Piggie, the excitement is the same. Why? Because the kids were all engaged. Think about it. You can walk into a kinder class and ask about what the class is reading and immediately the excitement in responding is hard to contain. Hands go up, waiving furiously. Some simply cannot wait to be called upon and have to shout out an answer. That's called engagement

However, besides hands being up and students having fun, it was also obvious that they were extremely interested in the story, you could tell they were passionate about reading, and they were collaborating with their neighbors. That's also engagement. Now, fast forward to middle school or high school. Would I get the same level of excitement? No. Do I expect it? No. But I can walk into 8th-grade literature class and discuss my favorite poem, "Allowables" by Nikki Giovanni and then wait and watch. Soon a discussion surfaces, themes are discussed and the poem becomes meaningful to them. I leave the classroom and am proud and confident, that even without them ever meeting Dick and Jane, our students are learning, thinking, creating, collaborating, and engaged…and they will be just fine.