Academic success celebrated with lunch – L’Observateur
LAPLACE — Every summer, Parish President Jaclyn Hotard hosts an Academic Excellence Luncheon to celebrate the best and brightest in St. John the Baptist Parish.
This year’s event, held June 22 at Petra Restaurant in LaPlace, was made even more special by highlighting the achievements of students and teachers who not only persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic , but also against a destructive category four hurricane.
“Many of our students still achieved the success they achieved while displaced from their homes and families,” Hotard said. “They’ve had so much against them over the past two years. For this we are so proud.
Hotard said the luncheon was an opportunity to recognize not only top-performing students, but also educators who have risen to the top of their respective fields while pouring into the next generation of leaders.
Guest speaker Dr. Addy Reine, a physician at Ochsner LaPlace Medical Center, commended educators and urged scholars to consider investing their future in improving the community of St. John’s Parish.
Dr. Reine graduated from St. Charles Catholic High School as a valedictorian in 2007. She now resides in Garyville with her husband and their young son, but she clearly remembers a time when she was torn between return to St. John or pursue a career opportunity. in the parish of Ascension.
She was on hour 23 of a 28-hour shift in the intensive care unit while completing her residency at Notre-Dame du Lac. A mother arrived with her 20 year old son who was seriously ill and needed a ventilator. Although Dr Reine had never met the family before, she noticed how much more comfortable the mother seemed when she realized they lived less than a mile from each other in the parish of St. John. Familiarity had a stronger impact than expected, and she realized it would be an honor to give back to the area where she grew up.
Dr. Reine saw herself in some of the students as she thought back to when Hurricane Katrina hit at the start of her freshman year. Many families were displaced from their homes and there was a large influx of students from schools in the New Orleans area.
“It’s nothing compared to what you went through during your high school years with the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning and Hurricane Ida which wreaked havoc on the parish and destroyed homes and schools. local communities,” Dr Reine said. “Despite this adversity, you excelled and finished first in your class. You have taken a major step. I hope you will use it as a springboard to accomplish great things.
Local officials attending the Academic Excellence Luncheon included Sheriff Mike Tregre, Board Members Tammy Houston, Warren Torres, Tonia Schnyder, Acting Superintendent Rebecca Johnson, and School Board Members Charo Holden, Gerald Keller, Debbie Schum and Clarence Triche.
“One thing no one can ever take away from you is your education,” Sheriff Tregre said. “One day, someone from this lunch will be at our posts. Keep working hard, learn a foreign language, assimilate everything. If more people took the time to study like you do, there would be fewer people incarcerated.
Hotard added that it is never too late to continue your studies. She shared that she had always dreamed of going to law school, but to achieve this goal, she had to return to school in 2012 to complete her undergraduate degree.
“Don’t be afraid to take those risks,” Hotard said. “I challenge you that if at any point in your life journey you feel called and compelled to do something different, do it.”
She reminded students and teachers that her office is always open to them, whether they need a letter of recommendation or advice.