Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our Lady Academy Girls School
Photos - you can see the before and after very graphically:

Donations can be made through our website and PayPal or send check or money order to:
OLA Katrina Fund
222 S. Beach Blvd
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520.
Attention: Connie Chevis.


St. Joseph Hall
We have contacted Guild and Hardy Architects to design St. Joseph Hall. Taylor Guild was the architect for McAuley Hall and his firm has done the drawings for the new OLG Rectory and Parish Offices. Thus, he knows our area and school well. His first task is to complete a site plan, establishing where future construction for Holy Trinity and for OLA will be located, making sure there is room for everything that both schools anticipate needing in the near future. Then, he will begin work on St. Joseph Hall. We hope to be deep into working drawings by the summer. FEMA and MEMA are “on board,” and the Diocese has given its blessing. Let the project

12/3 December News Letter

Wendy's Heisman Award
It is my pleasure to announce that Victoria Romano has been named a state finalist in the
Wendy's Heisman Scholarship Program. This award is based on athletic prowess,
academic excellence, and exhibited leadership skills. Victoria will attend a dinner in
January in Jackson where those moving on to the next level in the competition will be
announced. Congratulations, Victoria!
National Young Leaders Conference
OLA junior, Emily Vaughn, recently returned from a week in Washington where she
attended the National Young Leaders Conference. She spent some time with Harriet
Miers, President Bush's former Supreme Court nominee. She spent a day in Congress,
sitting in Gene Taylor's seat in the House of Representatives. She also was able to visit
the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, among others. I think it was a fabulous experience for Emily!
OLA Swimming
Not to be out-done by the OLA state volleyball champions, the OLA swimmers took to
the pool several weeks ago and competed in the state meet. Swimmers, Samantha
McLeod, Madeleine Loftus, Nikki Vaught, and Alyssa Walter set school records in the
200m medley relay and the 200m free relay. Alyssa set a NEW STATE RECORD of
2:08:64 in the 200m Individual Medley. She shaved over 2 seconds off the old state
record, which she also held. Congratulations, Alyssa! Congratulations, swimmers!
Safety and Security
Like you, I have been reading about the recent rash of guns in schools in South
Mississippi. Although I have little fear of such a thing happening at OLA, I think safety
must be uppermost in all our minds. To that end, I have decided to secure all doors in
Mercy and McAuley Halls immediately after school begins in the morning EXCEPT the
front door, by the office. Thus, if you need to come to school, you need to use the Union
Street door, by the main office. Also, the only door to Johnson Hall that will be left open
is the door that leads to the parking lot. I'm afraid that this will inconvenience you some,
but a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for safety.
Mother's Prayer Group
Do you know that we have a group of mothers and teachers that meet to pray for OLA,
SSC, and Holy Trinity on the first Wednesday morning of every month? This month, the
gathering is on Wednesday, December 6th, at 9:30 AM in OLA room 16. Prayer will last
about 40 minutes. Please join us!
Financial Aid Workshop
OLA and SSC will jointly sponsor a college financial aid workshop at 5:30 PM on
Tuesday, December 5th. This is a MUST meeting for all junior and senior parents who
hope to apply for financial aid for their daughter's college education. I attended this
meeting last year and it was full of wonderful hints as you walk with your daughter
through the maze of the college admission and financial aid process. The meeting will be
in the Resource Room at SSC.
Youth Legislature
Twenty-three young ladies from OLA participated in Youth Leg this year. Carly Johnson
was named Outstanding Committee Chair; Ansley Blalock, Ashley Derenbecker and
Carly Johnson were named Outstanding Representatives. OLA had five bills passed:
Emily Vaughn and Lauren Poncet, Kathryn McDonald and Samantha McLeod, Carly
Johnson and Madeline Vosbein, and the combined bills of Amber Favre, Jennifer Roy,
Nikki Vaught, and Kaitlyn Stovall.
Cross Country
The OLA Cross Country team placed third in the state meet. Amelia Simpson and
Lauren Seal received medals for being selected to the All-State Team (the top 14 runners
in the state). The entire team finished in the top 40, out of 89 runners. Congratulations,
Coach Hull. Congratulations, ladies!
MS State Band Clinic
Megan Gargiulo was selected for the MS State Band Clinic.
The gathering will be in
Tupelo from December 7-9. She is one of only French Horns selected for this event.
Megan has also been selected for membership in the Long Beach Youth Commission.
This is an advisory board of youth to the city council.

8/5 OLA's summer fundraiser, the Race To Rebuild, was held Saturday morning, July 1st, at 7:00 am in Bay St. Louis, and was very successful! Not only was it a fun event for the community, but the funds raised will support OLA's rebuilding and recovery expenses since Hurricane Katrina.
Thank you to all who did so much work to plan the event, as well as everyone who supported and participated in it. Photographs and more details of the event in action will be posted here shortly. We are especially grateful to OLA Class of '84 Alumna Michelle Van Peski Ridder for serving as the event coordinator, and to Connie Chevis who provided key assistance.
We are also very grateful to our sponsors.
This will be an annual event, so plan to attend next year!

School Update

Textbooks are in - almost $100,000 worth! So.. you will have a great teacher, a room, a blackboard, a textbook, and a roof over your head. You just won't have a desk for the first two days of school; they are scheduled for delivery on August 14th. But.. there will be brand new carpeting in all classrooms; you will survive! The floor isn't so bad! Also, technology will be late in arriving. We are ordering almost $150,000 in computers, servers, printers, copiers, etc. It will be GREAT, but it will arrive LATE. GREAT and LATE - isn't that the story of our lives recently?I just got off the phone with the finance department at Bay-Waveland. The Displaced Student money that we have all been waiting for has been approved in Jackson. Bay-Waveland will approve the disbursement of it at their monthly school board meeting at the end of the month. We should receive a check in the middle of August; Sister Anna Louise will then issue a check to you; you should get it by the end of August. (I was hoping to have it for you at final registration on August 7th, but it looks like it will be a week or so later than that.)

From Jeannine, May 6

Just want to thank you for all the prayers, love and support you have given us at Our Lady Academy this school year. Thanks to your prayers, the grace of God has blessed us abundantly this year.

By the end of January, over 80% of our student body had returned with a promise of more to come in the fall. At the end of May, our students will have completed a full school year in seven months, doubling up on classes every day. Despite living in campers, without computers, libraries, and equipment, they have worked amazingly hard to complete all their assignments in a timely manner and excel in all areas, from academics to sports! One of our seniors has achieved a full ride to Princeton and our sports teams have all made it at lease to district playoffs. Our soccer team came out second in the state (they were state champs six years running) despite the fact that they didn't even have a field to practice on!

Our retreats have been awesome experiences! The retreat team, who puts on retreats for 7th, 8th and 9th grade retreats managed to prepare grace-filled, memorable experiences for all of the students despite the fact that they had little meeting time at school. The leadership that was displayed was awesome! The upperclass retreats were a gift for all of us. Our girls were in the worst of circumstances, sleeping on floors, roofs and walls being put on the buildings we were in (you can't stop volunteers!) and no plumbing and showers in one facility (it was amazing to watch the girls adapt to that!) God was so good to all of us!

We had intramurals, big sister/little sister ceremony and our first talent show. Since there is not much to do for entertainment around here, these activities provided lots of fun for all concerned! The inventiveness and creativity of the girls has been amazing!

Our buildings are coming along. In January we moved into five classrooms in McAuley Hall. There is talk of our science labs being replaced soon. Most recently, a roof went on to Mercy Hall - the most badly damaged building. Volunteers are rebuilding Johnson Hall. Both buildings should be ready by August when we begin a new school year. Our beloved St. Joseph Hall is gone and we are going to take out a loan to replace it, but that is down the road.

People who come to volunteer from all over the world, have been amazed at the joy they see in the faces of our girls! Every volunteer says the devastation is beyond anything they imagined from the pictures they had seen. And, yet, our girls have risen above adversity to live the joy of the Lord. In this Easter Season, we have much to be grateful for knowing our God is leading us to Resurrection here in South Mississippi!

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for us. Know you and your students remain in our prayers daily. Thanks especially for the prayers, they lift us up each day. Keep them coming, especially over the summer months.

Jeannine Burch

Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

For More Information and Updates on The Buildings -

The greatest is the selection of one of our volunteer groups as an award winner of the “Make a Difference Day” contest. This group has been at OLA from the very beginning and continues to help. We are inspired by their generosity! We also have much to report as our students have jumped into the swing of things and are once again making great accomplishments, we are so proud of them.

“Make a Difference Day”.
In October, 2005, our friends from Pope John Paul II High School of Hendersonville, TN brought down the first “18-Wheeler” filled with equipment and supplies for OLA. They also worked for several days gutting and cleaning one of our teacher’s homes. After returning to JPII, they submitted a recount of how they helped in the efforts to rebuild OLA to the USA Weekend Magazine contest called “Make a Difference Day”. The newspaper was very impressed and selected JPII as a winner. The story will be published on Sunday, April 23, 2006 in USA Weekend or PARADE Magazine.
Check out:

The award includes a $10,000.00 check which they will donate to the OLA Rebuilding effort. JPII has helped our school so much by sending funds, supplies, materials, volunteers and many prayers. We at OLA are so appreciative of everything they have provided. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU!


Margaret Hadden is a finalist for the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation. This award is evaluates academic, community service and school involvement. 75,000 students from across the nation applied and Margaret has made it to the final 250 students. She is guaranteed a $4,000.00 scholarship. She will be flown to Atlanta on April 6 for the final competition. If she is selected as one of the final 50 recipients, she will receive a $20,000.00 scholarship. Let’s keep her in our prayers.

May 28,

I just got word that Margaret received the Coke scholarship! Woo - way to go!

GREATEST NEED. OLA has 2 buildings which still need major repairs (Mercy Hall and Johnson Hall). Through the donations of so many, funding is available to complete the rebuilding of Johnson Hall ($150,000.00) and most of Mercy Hall ($300,000.00). The estimate on rebuilding Mercy Hall is coming in at about $420,000.00. The roof is $64,000.00, the roof decking is $47,000.00, doors are $42,000.00, etc. We still need $150,000 to be able to finish Mercy Hall.

Tuition assistance. Many of our students lost their homes and their parents are rebuilding their lives, businesses, etc. Some are even paying mortgages on the previous homes which have been reduced to concrete slabs. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a student this is an area of need. Tuition for one student is $4350.00 per year. Of course, partial sponsorship is possible - every little bit counts!

St. Joseph Hall.
St. Joseph Hall was so badly destroyed by Katrina the building had to be bulldozed. This building will need to be replaced. Preliminary estimates are $500,000.00. OLA may have to take out a loan to replace this building. This is a very scary proposition to those making the decisions because we will be burdening future parents with a large financial obligation. OLA has been very, very prudent and frugal and has always operated “in the black”.

Donations can be made through our website and PayPal or send check or money order to:OLA Katrina Fund
222 S. Beach Blvd
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520.
Attention: Connie Chevis.

*Please designate on check if intended for tuition.

Our school is a very special place and “Katrina may have CRUSHED our School but Not our SPIRIT.” Please keep us in your prayers, stop by, visit us and see why we love this school so much.

God Bless you. Thank you for your help and prayers.

Connie Chevis
Teresa Romano
Sr. Jackie Howard

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