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John Paul the Great Academy


Continuing Spring 2018 | Volume 3




to John Paul the Great Academy, a private, Preschool through 12th grade, independent school committed to teaching a rigorous classical curriculum and a comprehensive understanding of the Roman Catholic faith.

Continuing the

We are blessed to reside on the former property of the Magnolia Plantation and the De La Salle Christian Brothers. It is a privilege to inherit some of the most beautiful grounds of South Louisiana, to walk the hallways where the Brothers studied, to pray at the shrines the Brothers built so long ago. With a student body of nearly



Campus André Martin founded Magnolia Plantation. For nearly a century, Magnolia was one of the most notable, selfsustaining plantations in Lafayette. Magnolia Plantation included 1,000 acres of sugarcane, cotton, corn, cattle herds, and a brick factory.


Magnolia Plantation founded


In our eleventh year as a school, we remain devoted to continuing the legacy begun by our predecessors on these sacred grounds nearly two hundred years ago: to offer a strong Catholic formation and robust classical education to the young people of Acadiana. Our goal is simple— to form students who have the intellectual and spiritual formation needed to bring Christ to a world in need of witnesses to hope.

I am proud to know that the property that once upon a time I owned is now in the hands of the Christian Brothers and is destined to be a place in which future Christian Brothers will be educated in the faith. My forefathers must be glad that on their land there is now a seminary for priests, another for the brothers, and a cloister for Carmelite nuns. — Clarisse Martin, Owner of Magnolia Plantation

of our

The current campus of John Paul the Great Academy stands on the legacy of both the Magnolia Plantation and the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

300 students, we are carrying on the Christian Brothers’ tradition of Catholic education in Acadiana.

“ Brother Alton, Founder of the De La Salle Christian Brothers school in Lafayette

Brother Alton of the De La Salle Christian Brothers traveled to New Orleans to meet with Msgr. Jules Jeanmard. At that historic meeting, Msgr. Jeanmard encouraged the Christian Brothers to found a new campus in Acadiana so that they could foster religious vocations and teach in the diocesan schools.


Brother Alton met with Msgr. Jeanmard

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As soon as the Christian Brothers saw Magnolia Plantation, they fell in love with it— forty-three acres of rolling grounds and beautiful trees near the city. It was a godsend! — Brother Arsenius Macher

With encouragement from newly ordained Bishop Jeanmard, Brother Alton and his companions, Brother Isidore and Brother Joseph, traveled along the Bayou Teche in search for a suitable place for the new Christian Brothers campus. Brother Joseph read the Lafayette newspaper and found the Magnolia Plantation for sale. The Christian Brothers purchased 43 acres of the Magnolia property on Carmel Avenue from Miss Clarisse Martin, who inherited it from her father, Mr. Andre Martin, to establish the new Christian Brothers campus.


Christian Brothers purchased Magnolia Plantation

The question of saving the boys to the Church... is the paramount issue of today. If we keep them faithful true children of the Church, the future of this diocese is assured. This is the work the Brothers are helping us to do. — Brother Joseph to Bishop Jeanmard, 1922

Bishop Jeanmard granted his blessing to the new campus of the Christian Brothers.


Bishop Jeanmard blessed campus


Juniorate Building completed

The first building of the new Christian Brothers school, the Juniorate Building, was completed with a loan endorsed by Bishop Jeanmard. Christian Brothers in the Juniorate, the second stage of formation, lived and studied in this building.


Novitiate Building completed

The second main building, the Novitiate Building (known to JPG as the “Main Building�), was completed. Christian Brothers in the novitiate, the first stage of formation, lived and studied in this building. The oak trees that line the entrance were planted.


Lourdes Grotto built

The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was built and dedicated.


Juniorate Building destroyed

The Juniorate Building, where the JPG gravel parking lot is currently located, was destroyed by a fire.

The Lourdes Grotto, c. 1941 The Juniorate Building destroyed, c. 1977

The Juniorate Building, c. 1930

The Novitiate Building, c. 1927

The Juniorate and Novitiate buildings, c. 1928

Witness to Hope



2014 2015 2017

In its fifth year as a school and with a student body of 135, John Paul the Great Academy relocated to its permanent campus at the historic Magnolia Plantation and De La Salle Christian Brothers campus.

The retired Christian Brothers relocated to a new residence. A group of anonymous investors formally donated the property to John Paul the Great Academy.

JPG moved to Christian Brothers campus

JPG purchased Christian Brothers campus

JPG students on the new permanent campus, 2011


JPG launched Master Plan, completed Phase 1.1

JPG launched a Master Plan for the future of the permanent campus. Phase 1.1 was completed, adding three sets of fireproof stairs to the Main (novitiate) Building and six mobile classrooms to the campus.

Mr. Stromer teaching in new classroom, 2016

JPG celebrated 10th anniversary, completed Phase 1.2 of Master Plan

JPG celebrated its 10th year as a school with a student body of 283. Phase 1.2 of the Master Plan was completed, which included a complete gymnasium renovation (see page 10), driveway paving, and five additional restrooms.

Christian Brother novices, c. 1926


John Paul the Great Academy

JPG launched Phase 1.3 of Master Plan

JPG launched Phase 1.3 of the Master Plan. See page 11 for details!

JPG celebrated its 10th anniversary with a student body of 283

More from the

Chapel in the presentday JPG library


Sources: Brother Arsenius Macher, FSC (18811969), Christian Brothers in the South & Southwest: Reflections and Memories. “Magnolia Plantation Now Site of Christian Brothers Home,� Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, LA), Jan. 27, 1998. Brother Emmet Sinitiere, FSC, interview by Peter Fletcher, February 2018.

Aerial view of the De La Salle Christian Brothers campus, c. 1950s

Entrance to the Christian Brothers campus

Elevator being built, 1956


of Monsignor Richard von Phul Mouton

Monsignor Richard Mouton was a beloved member of the JPG community since the very beginning of the school’s history.

His devotion to Catholic education and the New Evangelization brought him to JPG. Together with Dr. Kevin Roberts, Monsignor rang the bell on the first day of school at John Paul the Great Academy in 2007, and he taught a senior theology class every year. “We need more schools like John Paul the Great Academy that focus on great classical works and character formation,” said Father Michael Champagne of the Community of Jesus Crucified (CJC). “This was something that Msgr. Mouton and I agreed on in the beginning days of JPG. We often expressed to each other our pleasure in the existence and mission of JPG,” said Fr. Champagne. Fr. Champagne knew Msgr. Mouton for nearly twentyfive years. They served on many diocesan councils and evangelization teams together and became good friends.

“I know no priest who has single-handedly influenced more young men to become priests than Msgr. Mouton. That is a fact,” Fr. Champagne states. “It was the way he would train his altar boys, the way he said Mass, and the way he would teach. He was strict, but very personal. He fostered and encouraged so many vocations.” Msgr. Mouton gave Fr. Champagne his library before he died. Fr. Champagne shares, “Msgr. loved mystery novels. He asked me which mystery novels of his I wanted, and I said ‘Just the divine mysteries, Monsignor!’ to which he replied, ‘Wise choice, Father!’” When Msgr. Mouton passed away, JPG wished to continue the tradition of having a priest teach the senior class. Fr. Champagne said, “Mr. Fletcher called me when Msgr. Mouton died and asked me to ‘fill his shoes’ at JPG— to teach the seniors theology, offer spiritual formation to students, and just be a presence on campus.” Fr. Champagne laughed saying, “My response: ‘I surely can’t replace Monsignor, but I am grateful to continue his legacy and to be identified in the same camp as him!’” He finished, “Monsignor Mouton is a legend.”

“Msgr. Mouton really enjoyed being at JPG. He told me that many times,” recalled Fr. Champagne, who attended the first informational meeting about John Paul the Great Academy in 2006. “Having a doctorate in theology, Msgr. Mouton was a great theologian. More importantly, he was was a real churchman. He loved the Church,” Fr. Champagne


continued. “He was a man of prayer. He would get up at 2:15 every morning to pray!”


Continuing the legacy of Msgr. Mouton, Fr. Champagne now teaches theology to the JPG senior class and offers confession and Mass to students. We are grateful to Msgr. Mouton, Fr. Champagne, and all priests who are friends of JPG for helping us build a legacy of faith here at John Paul the Great Academy.

On Saturday, June 10, 2017, Bishop Deshotel ordained Fr. Christopher Cambre (Class of ‘08) to the Order of Holy Priesthood (pictured left). Fr. Cambre is currently the parochial vicar at St. Joseph Church in Rayne, LA. Photo courtesy of Janenne deClouet Photography

On December 1, 2017, Fr. Bryce Sibley, co-founder of JPG, witnessed the marriage of JPG alumni Mary Margaret Robichaux (Class of ‘12) and Wesley LeJeune (Class of ‘10). Fr. Christopher Cambre (Class of ‘08) and Donald Bernard (Class of ‘11) were also present.

“I was blessed to have Monsignor Mouton preach the homily at my first Mass as a priest. He spoke about who a priest should be and the dignity of the priesthood. Little did we know, that would be his last homily. I can’t help but think how fitting it was that he left us with those last words, words that truly described him and his priesthood.” - Fr. Christopher Cambre

Witness to Hope



John Paul the Great Academy is now home to three generations of the Menard family.

The Menard Family

Mindy Menard, Lower School Dean, has been employed at JPG since 2008, the second year of the school. She and her husband Derrick have sent all of their children to JPG. Emily is currently in Kindergarten, Andrew in 5th grade, and Madelyn in 7th grade. Chassidy, their oldest daughter, graduated from JPG in 2013 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Wyoming Catholic College in 2017. Chassidy is now the first alumna to teach at JPG. Mindy’s mother, Mrs. Jean, also serves in the cafeteria each day.

“ My whole family is here, ” Emily exclaimed, smiling from ear to ear. Mindy and Derrick moved their family to JPG after meeting with Dr. Kevin Roberts, founder of JPG, and being won over by the mission of the school. Mindy shares,

“ John Paul the Great Academy was founded to change the culture, to be a light in the world. That’s why we came. ”

Mindy continues, “We wanted more for our kids. We knew that Chassidy, being in the gifted program, was heading in a great direction, but we wanted more. We wanted our kids to be free. We wanted our kids to be challenged, to be around people who share their beliefs, to know and love their faith, to be confident and intellectual, to be well-formed individuals— and that’s what JPG offered us, so we took a leap.”

Chassidy recalls the moment she was told she would be attending JPG her 7th grade year: “I was not happy with my mother for sending me to JPG. I was in the gifted program at one of the best-ranked public schools.”

other school. I saw that JPG was set up as this grand adventure. It wasn’t just about getting accepted to a good college or getting a high GPA— it was about becoming a good human being, being a saint, and doing something great. In the end, JPG became my first love.” Madelyn echoes her sister’s sentiments, “I love my teachers. I love how they interact with us outside of class and want to really know us. I also love that I can line up everyone in this school and call them by name.” Mindy says, “We’ve changed homes three times since we’ve been at this campus, so all of my children’s memories are here. JPG is home.” In 2013, during Chassidy’s junior year, JPG had to raise the funds needed to purchase the current campus from the Christian Brothers. Her senior class, along with the entire JPG community, came together: “Everyone in my class took part in the social media campaign and wrote articles to newspapers. My family even laid the floors in the classroom I am currently teaching in. We did everything we could to make sure that JPG survived.” Mindy added, “The students had to stop and think, ‘What is good about this school? Why is this school worth saving?’” After the campus was purchased, Andrew remembers driving onto the grounds for the first time: “When we turned the corner onto the oak alley, I thought, ‘Wow! We really bought this!’” After fours years of being away for college, Chassidy has returned to teach at JPG. She shares why she came back: “There have been changes to the school, but the thing that matters is the mission— we are here to make good human beings. That mission transcends whoever is in the administration, whatever teachers are here, and whatever families are here. The mission at JPG is bigger than us. That’s why I came back. This is a labor of gratitude for what JPG has given me that I approach with love each day.”

Chassidy continues, “I was so upset I wanted to move out to my Granny’s house! Well, now Granny is at JPG too, serving lunch everyday.” JPG was a change that Chassidy had difficulty adjusting to in the beginning. She remembers her objection to wearing the plaid uniform skirt and discomfort with having such a small class size of seven students. “I refused to believe that JPG had anything to offer me for the first month that I was at school,” Chassidy remembers, “until I realized that JPG had more to offer to me than any


John Paul the Great Academy

Mindy Menard (Lower School Dean) and Chassidy Menard (JPG Faculty Member; Class of ‘13) wearing matching outfits to work!

Mrs. Jean serves her granddaughter Emily Menard (Kindergarten) and her daughter Mindy Menard (Lower School Dean) lunch.


CLASSICAL EDUCATION What is classical education? Classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on what is true, good, and beautiful. What is the origin of classical education? With origins in the classical world of Greece and Rome, classical education is an ancient, proven tradition that has formed some of the greatest leaders, inventors, scientists, writers, philosophers, theologians, physicians, lawyers, and artists of Western Civilization. “What is proper to each thing is by nature best and most pleasant for it. For a human being, therefore, the intellectual life is best and most pleasant, since this, more than anything else, constitutes humanity. So this life will also be the happiest.” - Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book X

What is the fruit of classical education? A student who is...

Fully-formed in mind, body, and soul. Filled with wonder and awe in learning Senior students engaging in a Socratic discussion

An independent learner Truly wise and virtuous, and, therefore, happy

What are the key features of classical education at JPG? Classical Education...

 iews man as a rational creature created in the V image and likeness of God

 ffers unique courses, such as Latin, Speech and O Debate, Logic, and Rhetoric

 ducates by way of the trivium, the three stages E of learning— grammar (knowledge), logic (understanding), and rhetoric (wisdom)

 eaches for mastery of content — seeking depth T over breadth of content

 ncourages mentor relationships between E faculty members and students

Maintains small class sizes of 15-18 students

Embraces single-gender and co-ed classes

 mploys Socratic discussion and mimetic E instruction Implements a lab-based approach to math and science Emphasizes the “Great Books” of Western Civilization Immerses students in the study of poetry, myth, drama, and music  rioritizes primary texts as sources of P information in the classroom Sophomore students tracking the number of brine shrimp hatched in salt water

Witness to Hope




Our classical approach to science utilizes inquiry, discussion, and modeling to give students a real encounter with God’s book of nature. We teach the wonder and rigor of science by having students do science with rigor and wonder.



Students explore inquiry-based labs designed to make natural phenomena evident. Tangible experiences bring the “grammar” of science into clear view. Pictured: Using a model strand of DNA, students follow base pairing rules to make RNA and use the genetic code to make protein.



Students engage in Socratic discussions. In these peer conversations, students apply sound logic and persuasive rhetoric to describe their findings and draw conclusions. Pictured: The process by which DNA is transcribed into RNA and translated into protein is presented through a whiteboard discussion.


Students employ their lab data and discussion consensus in the building of a scientific model. The model connects a student’s mind to the reality of nature they encounter. Pictured: Using their understanding of DNA, RNA, and the genetic code, students build a model of protein synthesis.

people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the “ Some very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it.”

Students Speak


I grew up hearing about the classical method of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, but I didn’t truly understand and appreciate the value of this type of education until I became involved in JPG’s Speech and Debate program.

One of my favorite things about my classes at JPG is the exposure to primary texts. We read the original authors themselves. Instead of reading about the ancient Greek heroic code in a textbook, we trace the idea of heroism through the epics of Homer and the Athenian tragedies. We are then able to develop a definition that evolves as we read each primary source. This has taught me how to read well and analyze information with a critical eye. Many of the primary texts we read are among the greatest works of Western Civilization. These are works that transcend time periods and political climates and reveal to us truths about the human person and mankind as a whole. Another thing I love is the Socratic discussion classes, which allow us to deliberate over great works with our peers. This has equipped me with the tools to persuade others and to defend my arguments effectively. Learning in this setting has enabled me to defend objective truth at Speech and Debate competitions and uphold a moral framework in my debate cases. Studying primary texts, reading great works, and participating in


John Paul the Great Academy


- St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Book XVI

by: Hope Lewis

Socratic discussions provided me with the skills I needed to deliver a speech about the government in Somaliland through the lense of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, to systematically deconstruct an argument connecting foreign aid to the social contract theory of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, and to draw parallels between Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince and current world leaders. I’ve been blessed to be very successful in competitive Speech & Debate. I’ve taken home awards in Lincoln-Douglas Debate (a one-on-one debate on values), Extemporaneous Speaking (a speech on international and domestic policy and affairs), and Congressional Debate (a debate on congressional bills and resolutions and their implications in society). This year will be my third year competing on the national level; I will be competing in Extemporaneous Speaking and Congressional Debate. This year, for the first time ever in JPG’s history, I became the top public speaker in Louisiana, earning the Marilyn Kleban Forensic Award at the 2018 State Tournament of Champions. The classical approach has been invaluable to my formation as a person and success as a competitive debater. I am immensely thankful for the opportunities and tools classical education has given me.


“COLLEGE PREP?” What makes a school college prep? Many parents would define a college prep school as one that enables their children to secure a high ACT score and to be successful in college. But is a high ACT score all that being college prep entails? Every year, only 45% of incoming freshmen at Louisiana colleges will graduate within six years; only 20% will do so in four years.* The truth is that the ACT is not the strongest predictor of college success. Character is.

The real question is, What kind of education builds the character and discipline needed to thrive in college?

We firmly hold that, while scoring well on the ACT is very important, the strongest predictor of college success is a student who has the proper tools of learning and exhibits great character. This is what classical education provides. First, classical education focuses on the trivium, which gives students the tools of learning— grammar (the tool of knowledge), logic (the tool of reasoning), and rhetoric (the tools of communication and expression). Classical students do not just know facts— they become independent learners who are able to learn, think, and articulate their ideas in any environment. Second, and most importantly, classical education provides students with a deep character and spiritual formation. Acknowledging that each student is made in the image and likeness of God, the classical school invites students to grow in moral virtue, respond to the gift of faith, and cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. A spiritual formation is critical because only 21% of young people maintain their Catholic faith through their college years.** Young people in college lack the structure of family life and the discipline of a parent waking them up to go to church on Sundays. What a difference it makes for young people when they are invited to experience the joy of a virtuous life, to cultivate an intimate friendship with Christ, to learn the “why” behind their beliefs so that they may give a defense for their faith, from the classroom to the dorm room. *Jeffrey J. Selingo, “College Completion: Who Graduates from College, Who Doesn’t, and Why it Matters,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2015, ** Brandon Vogt, “New Stats on Why Young People Leave the Church,” December 21, 2016, new-stats-young-people-leave-church/.

A classical, Catholic education offers the robust intellectual formation needed for long-term academic success, and plants the deep spiritual roots needed to weather the challenges of college and the world. This is what it means to truly prepare students for college. JPG Class of 2018 Average ACT Scores JPG























JPG Class of 2017 Graduate Profile Class Size


Graduates eligible for the Louisiana Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship


Gross scholarship awards

$2.3 million

Average SAT Score *using the new scale


Average ACT Composite Score


College Acceptances of JPG Graduates Ave Maria University Benedictine College Centenary College of Louisiana Christendom College Franciscan University Louisiana State University Louisiana Tech Loyola University Millsaps College Mount Saint Mary’s University Nicholls State University Northwestern State University

Saint Joseph Abbey & Seminary College South Louisiana Community College Spring Hill College Texas A&M University at Texarkana United States Air Force Academy United States Naval Academy University of Dallas University of Louisiana at Lafayette University of Southern Mississippi Wyoming Catholic College

Witness to Hope


Building the Future


GYMNASIUM Thanks to a successful Matching Gift Campaign and the generosity of many, we have completed Phase 1.2 of our Master Plan. This phase included repaving the driveway entrance, adding five restrooms, and renovating our gymnasium. The gymnasium features a new roof, ceiling insulation, air conditioning, freshly painted walls, RE-OPENING CEREMONY


10 | John Paul the Great Academy

and a maple wood floor. The gym is named for Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who lived in Italy in the early twentieth century and combined a love of the outdoors and athletics with devotion to prayer and service to the poor. The renovated gym provides a space for athletic competitions and other community events.




Master Plan



JPG Enrollment Trend 300

Number of Students

John Paul the Great Academy’s commitment to providing a robust, classical, Catholic education in the heart of Acadiana has led to consistent growth. Because of an increase in student enrollment and our occupation of a historic campus, we must move into Phase 1.3 of our Master Plan as we continue in our second decade as a school.

John Paul the Great Academy


162 126

189 131




















Phase 1.3 $150,000


School Year

1. Four Lower School Classrooms

$50,000 4. Lower School Awnings


2. Chapel Building Roof Repair

$45,000 5. Driveway Pavement


3. School Zone Lights

$9,000 6. Renovated Middle School Restrooms


TOTAL $150,000

How to give: Online at

Appreciated publicly traded securities

Check to JPG

 grant from your fund at The Community A Foundation of Acadiana or elsewhere

IRA charitable rollover


The completion of Phase 1.3 concludes Phase 1 of our Master Plan. A major capital campaign for Phase 2 will follow Phase 1.

Witness to Hope

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John Paul the Great Academy

Contributing Photographers: Taylor McCaulley Peter Piazza Amy Stout Cover Photo: The JPG community adoring the Eucharist at the Lourdes Grotto on the Feast of St. Joseph. Photo by Taylor McCaulley Witness to Hope magazine receives its name from George Weigel’s biography on Pope St. John Paul II entitled Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.





Design: Palmer Printing




Editorial Committee: Taylor McCaulley, Editor-in-Chief & Design Emily Byers, Editor Philip Cortese, Editor Danielle Mahan, Editor Molly McCracken, Editor Chassidy Menard, Editor Angela Odinet, Editor Luke Ungarino, Editor


Witness to Hope



John Paul the Great Academy is proud to receive the following awards in 2018 from the Cardinal Newman Society: Newman Society Catholic Honor Roll Award Elementary School Catholic Honor Roll Award Newman Society National Ambassador School Award

Contact Us

Molly McCracken Director of Admissions & Advancement

November 10, 2018

Witness to Hope - Continuing the Legacy - Magazine 2018  

John Paul the Great Academy

Witness to Hope - Continuing the Legacy - Magazine 2018  

John Paul the Great Academy