Page 1


A L O U I S I A N A S C H O O L F O R M AT H , S C I E N C E , A N D T H E A R T S F O U N DAT I O N P U B L I C AT I O N   |   S P R I N G 2 0 1 7



Above, Amanda Barre, ’94 helps clean out the home of an impacted alumnus.


Cover Photo: Rusty Frioux, ’94, Matthew Couvillion, ’93, Kristina Bradford, ’94, Gabe Bradford, Michelle Smith, ’88, Jamie Smith, ’88, Jacob Brumfield, ’91, Amanda Barre, ’94, Paul Carter, ’91, Liz Price

“When you have a student walk into your office and tell you they’re now homeless, that does something to you. It’s like a kick in the gut.” —Katja Thomakos

Paul Carter, ’91, who drove all the way from Dallas to help, joins the alumni demo crew in Baton Rouge.

LSMSA Alumni Association as a family,” said Jamie G. Smith, president of the Alumni Association. “The horrible and vast impact of this flood has shown how much these alumni care for each other.” Katja Thomakos, LSMSA Foundation executive director, said that more than half of the dollars raised have already been spent, and the remaining funds will be a welcome relief for those flood-impacted students continuing at LSMSA. “The response in the aftermath of the flood was intense and impressive,” she said. “Our community heard there was a need, and without a second thought pitched in and helped however they could.” “When you have a student walk into your office and tell you they’re now homeless, that does something to you,” Thomakos said. “It’s like a kick in the gut. But to be able to tell them that their LSMSA family had stepped up to help, and that they didn’t need to worry about their fees, or whether they could buy toothpaste, or pay for college applications, that made such a difference. I wish all of our donors and volunteers could see the looks in the eyes of our students when they found out how much support was available for them. There will never be enough thank-yous to honor our community for their generosity.”


Amid the devastation of the 1,000-year flooding in south Louisiana in August, the LSMSA community came together and rallied incredible support for our students, parents and alumni. More than 220 donors raised nearly $44,000 in just a few weeks through the LSMSA Foundation to provide support for students in need. The financial contributions helped buy supplies such as sheets, towels and other necessities. Gift cards allowed students to buy clothes and toiletries. The local United Way donated vouchers to Goodwill, and flood-impacted students were able to buy dresses and jackets for the fall Sadie Hawkins dance. The funds raised have also been used to pay for LSMSA fees, bus fare and other critical needs for our students. We even covered class rings. Parents of current and former students also took to social media in an effort to help those in need by offering rides to LSMSA, picking up supplies and offering emotional support. Alumni mobilized and worked tirelessly for several weekends to clear out and demo the homes of three alumni before mold set in. Using the project management model established by the LSMSA alumni Social/Service Weekend, alumni formed work crews to take care of manual labor, child care, food prep and supply runs. “We often refer to the


Students from TAMS and LSMSA compete in flag football

LSMSA students compete in girl’s basketball




More than 200 scholar athletes representing three schools gathered in Natchitoches Feb. 10–11 to compete and have fun during the 23rd annual SLAMT event hosted by LSMSA. “The competition was action packed and full of excitement,” said Dale Clingerman, coordinator of athletics and recreation at LSMSA. “A special thanks goes out to our student athletes for all of their hard work and sportsmanship.” LSMSA competed against sister schools Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science and the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts. Events included billiards, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, girl’s basketball, flag football, boy’s basketball, soccer and tennis. Participants also enjoyed a pep rally, dance and campfire. The traveling trophy returned to Denton, Texas, for the third year in a row with TAMS taking first place. LSMSA finished second, and ASMSA placed third.

Charles Chapman, a senior from Haughton, participated in flag football, ultimate Frisbee, basketball and soccer. “I really enjoy playing sports, and I wanted to help our team win this year,” said Chapman. As a cheerleader, Caitlyn Morrison cheered at the games and performed at the pep rallies. “It is really rewarding to see the whole school come together to support each other,” said Morrison, a junior from Gloster. “Alumni come back and faculty get involved and students who would not come to a sports event other­ wise all gather for one purpose. “My favorite part of SLAMT is meeting people from TAMS and ASMSA, making connections and realizing how similar all of us are.” Myles Fabre, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, played basketball and flag football. “I participated in SLAMT because I have heard so much about it and how much it means to the school,” said Fabre.

LSMSA HONORS VETERANS WITH CEREMONY A member of each branch of the military was recognized during the Veterans Day ceremony held at LSMSA in November. “This event is a convergence of two things that I highly value —  public service and excellence in education,” said Kent Laborde, a 1987 LSMSA graduate from Mansura who is a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve. “Many years ago, when I was a student just like you, there was no way you could convince me that I would ever join the military,” Laborde said. “It was the furthest thing from my mind at the time.” In his civilian life, Laborde is a foreign affairs specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where he works on international cooperation on environmental issues ranging from protecting marine resources to building climate resiliency. “It is a great honor for me to talk to you today about Veterans Day, which serves a very important purpose,” he said. “It is a day we recognize not just those who have given their lives in war, but all of those who have worn the uniform in service.”

Laborde speaks during the Veterans Day program.


Milan Arpino, a senior from Monroe, sings during the Veterans Day program.


Amin, center, and Cambridge, right, are pictured with Dr. Luftig.




Two seniors were among 116 students who participated in the 2016 Summer Research Internship program offered by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). Alexis Cambridge, of Slidell, and Varun Amin, of Lake Charles, interned for five weeks with alumni, research labs and professionals. The two were housed on the NCSSM campus. Cambridge acted as a research assistant in the analytical lab at the Duke Wetland Center. She also performed research of her own that she presented at a symposium at the end of the program. “My favorite part of the program was gaining the lab experience and going into the field with my mentor,” Cambridge said. “I also enjoyed meeting the students from NCSSM and talking about the similarities between our schools.”

Amin worked with Dr. Micah Luftig, a 1994 graduate of LSMSA, a LSMSA Foundation trustee, and an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University, in the virology lab at Duke. His presentation at the symposium was “Gene expression in cells infected by Epstein-Barr virus early and late after infection.” The goal of the research internship program is to engage students in a real-world learning experience to further develop knowledge in a field of study and to get the opportunity to be hands-on as they progress on their projects. Many mentors focus on students’ curiosity and enthusiasm for research, rather than their background or coursework related to the topic. This research opportunity was sponsored by the LSMSA Foundation.

Pictured are, from left, Dr. Stover, Robinson, Cambridge, Yuan, Loy, Amin and Dr. Hynes.


Members of the Dance Club presented a student dance concert on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the dance studio. Four students each choreographed a piece performed by several students. The first dance was choreographed by Jared Hulsey, a senior from Dodson. Abigail LeBlanc, a sophomore from Fordoche, and Heather Soileau, a senior from Lafayette, performed “Forsaken.” Edouard Ferrell, a junior from Natchitoches, choreographed “Bacchanalia,” and it was performed by Alyssa Bosworth, a sophomore from Houma; Tierney Dardar, a senior from Galliano; Ferrell; and Samantha Wright, a junior from Crowley. Soileau choreographed a solo for herself called “Brakes.” Larke Tyler, a senior from Calhoun, choreographed “Lovely Weather” for Bosworth, Dardar, Ferrell, LeBlanc and Wright. Also performing an interpretive dance, “Desiree’s Baby,” were Gabrielle Blanchard, a junior from Houma; Lauren Copeland, a junior from Baton Rouge; and Tyler.


Five students competed against college students at the Undergraduate Research Conference held in October at Louisiana State University. An oral presentation by Varun Amin, a senior from Lake Charles, placed second in the life sciences division. His project was “Analysis of Gene Expression Data from Primary B Cells Infected with Epstein-Barr Virus During the Transformation Process.” He conducted his research at Duke University and was mentored by Dr. Jason Anderson, a lecturer of biology at LSMSA. MyChel Robinson, a senior from Mansura, was awarded second place in the math and physical science division. Her project was “GUMBOS: Group of Uniform Materials Based on Organic Salts.” She conducted her research at LSMSA and her mentor was Dr. Isiah M. Warner. Other LSMSA presenters were: Alexis Cambridge, a senior from Slidell, presented “Using Diatoms as a Bio-Indicator of Water Quality,” in the life sciences division. Camille Loy, a senior from Terrytown, presented “Generation of Cystic Fibrosis Neutrophil Cell Lines for CF Research and Drug Screening,” in the life sciences division. Grace Yuan, a senior from New Orleans, presented “Characterizing Adhesion Strength of Thin-film Systems with Opto-Acoustic Microscopy,” in the math and physical science division. This opportunity was sponsored by the LSMSA Foundation.



LSMSA STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS IN CLASS Students in the Religions of Asia class dressed up to reflect

Hairr, a senior from Sulphur; Sameer Karmali, a sophomore

and represent various religious traditions during the last day

from Leesville; Shakil Karmali, a junior from Leesville; Olivia

of class on Monday, Dec. 5. During the semester, students

LaCour, a junior from St. Amant; Genesis Lambert, a senior

studied Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucian­ism

from Denham Springs; Amy Liu, a junior from Alexandria;

and Daoism (Taoism). The class was led by Prem Gongaju, a

Sydney McCullough, a junior from Mansfield; Nicole Mulkey,

member of the residential life staff in Prudhomme. Enrolled

a junior from Slaughter; Jessenia Ortiz, a junior from Oberlin;

students include Lily Barnett, a junior from Alexandria; Karly

Camryn Pourciau, a junior from Baton Rouge; Adreanna Queen,

Brown, a senior from Baton Rouge; Hannah Buras, a junior from

a junior from Natchitoches; Marcus Shallow, a junior from Elton;

Prairieville; Nathaniel Campbell, a junior from Prairieville; Jerry

Adriana Walker, a senior from Natchitoches; and Mathew Weick,

Chen, a junior from New Llano, McKenzie Davis, a junior from

a senior from Baton Rouge.

Ferriday; Katelyn Frost, a senior from Bossier City; Christian

TWO PLAY WITH ALL NATIONAL HONOR ENSEMBLE Two students participated in the National Association for Music Education All National Honor Ensemble orchestra Nov. 10–13 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas. Devon Mathews and Jake Stultz are both juniors from Natchitoches. Mathews played the violin and Stultz the double bass. THE GIFT

The symphony orchestra was conducted by Dr. William LaRue Jones,


director of orchestral studies at the University of Iowa.

Luis Ortiz, left, observes as

Dr. Anderson demonstrates the

Amy Liu, left, and Luis Ortiz, right, watch as

Bryce Moulton extracts DNA

proper method to examine DNA.

Dr. Hodge demonstrates how to extract DNA.

STUDENTS AT LSMSA LEARN HOW TO EXAMINE DNA IN LAB Students enrolled in Cells and Genetics learned how to examine DNA using a method called gel electrophoresis during a lab held in November. According to instructor Dr. Margaret Hodge, this is the most basic technique used in molecular biology. Students in the class include McKenzie Cutrer, a junior from Denham Springs; Edouard Ferrell, a junior from Natchitoches; Christian Hairr, a senior from Sulphur; Corey King, a senior from Hammond; Amy Liu, a junior from

Alex­andria; Rory Marziale, a senior from Bush; Caitlyn Morrison, a junior from Gloster; Bryce Moulton, a junior from Natchitoches; Allyssa Neubauer, a junior from Lake Charles; Aliyah Newell, a senior from Opelousas; Luis Ortiz, a senior from Oberlin; Sidney Paulk, a senior from Deville; Mary Edna Tanksley, a junior from Lake Providence; Gabby Tramonte, a senior from Lake Charles; and Adriana Walker, a senior from Natchitoches.


Pictured are, front row, Gotte, left, and Randall; and second row, from left, Heitman, Skillman, Noakes, Jin and LaCaze.


Four members of the student newspaper staff placed in competitions at the 43rd Journalism Day hosted by Northwestern State University in November. The school newspaper, the Renaissance, and yearbook, the Rubicon, also received honors. Will Heitman, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, won first place in the radio competition. In the TV news category, Olivia Gotte, a junior from Iota, placed first. Winning in the media writing competition was Rosemarie Skillman, a sophomore from Denham Springs. Kaitlyn Randall, a junior from Vidalia, placed second in the media writing competition. In the newspaper competition, LSMSA placed first, and the school’s yearbook placed second. First place winners of each individual competition were awarded $500 scholarships to attend NSU and major in communica­ tion. Also competing were Caroline Jin, a junior from Shreveport, and Alena Noakes, a junior from Dry Prong. Pictured are, front row, Olivia Gotte, left, and Kaitlyn Randall; and second row, from left, Will Heitman, Rosemarie Skillman, Alena Noakes, Caroline Jin and Thorn LaCaze, newspaper sponsor.


Pictured are, from left, Burkman, Dr. Landry and Dr. Hynes.

THREE INSTRUCTORS PRESENT AT LATM/LSTA JOINT CONFERENCE Three instructors presented at the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics and Louisiana Science Teachers Association joint conference held in October in Baton Rouge.


DR. ALLISON LANDRY presented “Teaching with Water Models.” Her program showed participants how to use water model kits to teach about properties of water such as polarity, hydrogen bonding, cohesion, adhesion and solvency. Landry has taught biology and related elective classes at LSMSA since 2005.


BRAD BURKMAN led “Constructing Centers.” He used a compass and straightedge to construct the midpoints, altitudes, perpendicular bisectors and more of a triangle. Participants received a compass, ruler, colored pencils, eraser and packets of worksheets, sponsored by the LSMSA Foundation. Burkman has taught math at LSMSA since 2003.

DR. CHRIS HYNES presented, “What’s in a Picture? Using ImageJ for Making Measurements.” ImageJ has been used in the classroom for making scientific measurements upon images taken by students, i.e. transform qualitative information into quantitative information. Projects can inspire pragmatic discussions of the scientific method, basic math, geometry, art, nature, science and statistics. Projects illustrated in this presentation included numerical definitions of color (what is yellow?), image subtraction (what in the image was Photoshopped?), lengths, areas and angles (within microscope or geography images) and color intensity (Beer’s Law). Hynes has taught chemistry at LSMSA since 1994.


“I am so thankful for this opportunity to represent many of my college teammates with this award.”

national championships. The team went 81–55 during his four-year span with a 40–16 record in conference play. “No one will ever remember how many points you scored or even what your team record was, but they will always remember championship teams, and I feel that is the culture we were able to recreate at William Penn University,” said Spielbauer. “I am so thankful for this opportunity to represent many of my college teammates with this award.”


Jacob Spielbauer followed in the footsteps of his father and two aunts when he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at William Penn University during the school’s homecoming celebration held in October in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “I am very fortunate to be chosen as a hall of fame member for the class of 2016,” said Spielbauer, who is a lecturer of health and physical education at LSMSA and also serves as assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Northwestern State University. “I have a strong feeling of honor and gratitude. “There are so many people that I have already thanked on my own time for helping me grow as a student-athlete at William Penn, especially my parents and coaches. Individual awards are great, but to this day the only achievement that truly had significance to me was hanging banners.” His father, Ken Spielbauer, was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011 for men’s basketball. Both of his aunts were inducted in 2001. Patty Smitherman was recognized for softball and Sue Spielbauer for women’s basketball and softball. Spielbauer is one of four who were recognized for his athletic accomplishments during halftime of the football game. According to a release from William Penn, Spielbauer was a program-changing force for the William Penn men’s basketball team. Competing for the Statesmen from 2003–07, he did it all. He was described as tough, yet agile, smart but aggressive and as an academic standout as well. During his time on the court, the program won two MCC titles and qualified for the NAIA Division II


Pictured are award recipients, from left, Dr. Art Williams, Dr. Sharon Williams, Betsy Widhalm, Dr. Patrick Widhalm with Dr. Steve Horton.




Nearly 60 donors, volunteers and representatives from the faculty and administration of LSMSA attended the LSMSA Foundation’s sixth annual 1983 Society celebration held in November at Tommy’s Cuisine in New Orleans. The Foundation’s 1983 Society helps the school foster a tradition of philanthropy by recognizing its most loyal and committed supporters. Annual contributions of $1,983 or more qualify an individual or organization for membership in the 1983 Society. The event also featured the Foundation’s third annual presentation of the 1983 Society Wingspan Award for

Dedication, an award created to recognize and cele­brate the dedication of individuals and organizations who demonstrate meaningful and extraordinary support for LSMSA through financial means, volunteer time, advocacy and other avenues of engagement considered to go above and beyond. This year’s award recipients were Dr. Patrick and Betsy Widhalm and Drs. Art and Sharon Williams. LSMSA alumni and siblings Dr. Jane Jee-Sun Kang (’91) and Dr. William Kang (’99) performed a piano and violin musical tribute to the Wingspan Award winners.


GRANT SUPPORTS STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS FOR ONLINE ACADEMY AT LSMSA A $25,000 grant from the Virginia Martin Howard Foundation provided tuition assistance to 45 students participating in the Online Academy offered through LSMSA. The Online Academy is for gifted or high potential seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students who wish to receive advanced high school credit. Student admission to the program is selective and students must meet at least two of the eligibility requirements, which include participation in a school gifted program, recommendation by a gifted and talented designated teacher, scores on national tests in the 90th percentile, or recognized by Duke TIP or other noted program. Participants may register for Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Spanish I, French I, Latin I, Earth Science, Civics or Fine Arts Survey. Courses will provide a rich educational experience for participating students. These courses are rigorous, filled with engaging lessons, manipulatives and activities to address a student’s deeper understanding of the course content. This is the second year the Virginia Martin Howard Foundation has supported the Online Academy with a grant.

Bill New, President

Beth Colvin (’98)

Michael E. Robertson, II (’91),   Vice President

Heidi Gomez (’92)

Micah Luftig (’94), Treasurer John Pritchard (’88),  Secretary Rodney Allen Ashley Amy (’94) Larry Bossier

Jane Kang (’91) Leizl Montecillo (’01) Seema Patel (’96) Mary Ellen Slayter (’95) Niescja Turner (’90) Renu Swartz (’85)

The LSMSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible. • Mail a check payable to LSMSA Foundation to: 715 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA  71457 • Online at • Set up a monthly auto pay through your bank (ACH) • Volunteer — email

EVERYDAY GIVING Use for your online purchases and a percentage of your purchase will be donated back to LSMSA.

Melody Toyphommarath, ’14

New! Add LSMSA to your Kroger Rewards Card. Link LSMSA’s NPO number 66870 to the Community Rewards section of your Kroger account page and support LSMSA each time you shop with your Kroger Plus Shopper’s Card. Save your Community Coffee UPC’s and mail them to the Foundation for use in the Cash For Schools program. Note: The LSMSA Foundation is not eligible for Box Tops for Education. For more ways to give, including credit card programs, visit

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT Ask your employer if they have a matching gift policy to LSMSA at no additional cost to you.


and you can double, even triple, the impact of your gift


Seniors Alexis Cambridge, Varun Amin, and Lenora Davis at the 2016 FSP Banquet




An alumna from the Class of 1989 and her husband gave $25,000 to the LSMSA Foundation in support of two different programs at LSMSA. A Student Success Center will be created with $20,000, and the remaining $5,000 will be used to support the Future Scientist Program. The creation of a professionally staffed and centrally housed Student Success Center represents a tremendous opportunity for our living-learning community. Drawing from a collegiate model, LSMSA will be able to offer its students a more holistic academic support experience. The gift will seed the infrastructure needed to get the SSC on its feet with initial furniture, technology and supplies. The Future Scientist Program, directed by senior lecturer of chemistry and student research advisor Dr. Chris Hynes, is designed for students who desire to become professional scientists and engineers. For

more than 10 years, this program has provided a balance between academic and extracurricular science activities in a structured and carefully monitored environment. Science faculty mentor students and provide advice on appropriate curriculum paths, career opportunities and recommend specific activities that will help them grow in the selected area of interest. The $5,000 donation will offset the cost of the FSP banquet’s catering, FSP speaker fees, certificates and medals for students, and field trips for FSP members. “As part of our legacy planning, we are investing in LSMSA because it changes students’ lives by expanding their views of what is possible upon graduation,” said the donor and her husband, who requested anonymity. “This gift is an opportunity for us to enhance the experience for students and to support the school in a meaningful way.”

The cast of Rhinoceros. Lucy Rhymes, ’17, Milla Reddick, ’18, Kelsey Meshell, ’17, Parker Felterman, ’17, Danny Paulk, ’17, Charlie Roppolo, ’18, Director of Theatre Jeff Thomakos, Sierra Bailey, ’17, Annie Noel, ’17, Grace Dumdaw, ’17, and Shona McCullough ’17

Danny Paulk, ’17 Lily Orgeron, ’19, works with the

in Rhinoceros.

new DNA discovery kits.



Four DNA Discovery kits were purchased with Annual Fund dollars for use in use in

LSMSA presented Eugene Ionesco’s

Dr. Jason Anderson’s Genetics class and Intro to Biology classes.

absurdist play, “Rhinoceros,” in November. Annual Fund dollars helped provide

NEW TEXTBOOKS year thanks to donations to the Foundation’s Annual Fund. Titles such as “World War One Short Stories” by Bob Blaisdell; “World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored and Explained” by John Bowker; and “Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance

props and lighting supplies for the production.


The Humanities department enjoyed an influx of new and replacement textbooks this

set construction materials, costumes,

and Radicalism in New York City, 1880–1945” are already in classrooms.


Artwork by Dr. Nathaniel Wood

Dakota Bertand

Far left, Dr. Steve Horton talks to alumni at the art reception; Left, Jared Normand discusses his work

PAST PERFECT ALUMNI ART SHOW The first-ever alumni art show was held October 5 – 21, 2016 in the art gallery of the school’s Center for Performance and Technology. Coined Past Perfect, the exhibition aimed to recognize alumni across generations, while crafting an informal chronology of the school’s visual arts program


using pictures, storytelling, and works of art.


The art show featured works by 17 former students, and was the first exhibit to focus exclusively on the art of LSMSA alumni. It presented a wide range of mediums, styles and practices from artists that spanned several generations — from the Class of 1986 to the Class of 2013. Featured artists were: Cheyenne Bertrand (2010), Dakota Bertrand (1994), Toni Carlone (2013), Misty Cole (1992), Anne-Louise Ewen (1994), John Goedtel (2011), Tucker Howard (2011), Sharon LaBorde (1995), David Lowe (1992), Deborah Mahnken (1986), Daniel McKernan (1999), Doris Mejia (1992), Jared Normand (2005), Amy Traylor (1994), John Waggener (1995), Dr. Nathaniel Wood (1990), and Liz Yerby (2007).

Submissions of artwork for the exhibition were reviewed by a jury of alumni who work professionally in the arts: Laura Blereau (1994), Laurie Duke (1988), and Kelsey Hotaling (2010). Artwork was curated and installed in the gallery by Blereau, and the art show culminated in a public reception held the Sunday after Connections Weekend. The LSMSA Foundation and the LSMSA Alumni Association provided financial support for the Past Perfect exhibit.


needed to succeed in my classes, which gave me the opportunity to reach out for advanced experiences.” Maggio advises current students to listen to their college counselors. She would not have known how to look for her degree program without the College Counseling Center’s Codirector, Leah Lentz’s, guidance. “I did not think I could afford to attend a private university, but once I found that Loyola had its own music industries program, I knew I had to try,” she said. “I researched a lot with Mrs. [Leah] Lentz on financial aid, spoke to an instructor before applying and decided to give it a shot.” She realized that although she had to take out government loans, attending a program she really felt passionate about was well worth the loans she took out. “If I had not taken the financial risks I did, I would not have my dream job right after college graduation,” she said. “You only get one life, you might as well do what makes you most happy. “I am so glad I did just that. It was well worth it, but if it was not for my listening to Mrs. Lentz, I never would have taken the chance, or found every single opportunity available that assisted me financially making my college dream a reality. The last few times Maggio visited LSMSA, she heard juniors and seniors talking about attending a state university only because of financials. “I cannot stress this enough,” she said. “Go to the university YOU feel comfortable in; follow that voice in your gut. Don’t be an education martyr. Only big risks reap big rewards.” Maggio earned a bachelor of Science in music industries studies and a minor in business administration from Loyola University in New Orleans.


From the moment she created and planned Eagle Stock, Mary Beth Maggio was hooked on event planning. That love has led her to a position as special events and conference coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. “Working at the Smithsonian, you are not only working with vendors, but you are working in historic buildings surrounded by history,” said Maggio, a 2012 LSMSA graduate. “Each event has a different challenge, and it is never boring.” First working as a temporary hire in the Office of Special Events and Protocol she not only hosted events in the Smith­ sonian Castle and Arts and Industries Building, but also created events for internal units conferences, galas and more. Maggio has assisted with events hosted in the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of American History and the Botanical Gardens. Recently, Maggio was hired permanently as a special events coordinator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “I feel like I am watching a part of history unfold, and I love being a part of that,” she said. Although her love of history started at a young age while growing up in Natchitoches, LSMSA cultivated that interest and taught her that she could always learn and be passionate about history even if it was not her academic focus. Maggio “absolutely loved” the teaching style of Dr. Mark Van Rhyn, a retired history teacher at LSMSA. According to her, Van Rhyn taught class as if he were sitting on a back porch with his students. He also did a fantastic job preparing his students for collegiate tests and papers, while assisting them every step of the way. “LSMSA was fantastic in that way,” said Maggio. “It was advanced collegiate preparation coupled with compassion every step of the way.” Being a student at LSMSA prepared Maggio for life after high school in every way. “Not only had I become a pro at moving in and out of a dorm and working with roommates to avoid conflict, I became a stronger academic and felt confident in reaching out for help and information,” she said. “LSMSA gives students the toolbox they need. “Though college was still a challenge, I had exactly what I


LSMSA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION OFFICERS Jamie G. Smith (’88), President Kirby Hopkins (’94), Vice President Matthew Couvillion (’93),   Natchitoches Liaison Rachel Hughes Stanley (’88),  Secretary Tesia Albarado (’97), Treasurer

ALUMNI UPDATES Have good news to share? We want to hear about births, marriages, new jobs, and anything else exciting that’s happening in your life. Send your updates (including photos) to

ALUMNI RETURN TO CAMPUS FOR CONNECTIONS WEEKEND For the past 15 years, Connections Weekend has been a highlight of the fall semester. This required weekend for students gives them the opportunity to meet LSMSA alumni who offer insights and advice about college and career choices. Participation in Connections Weekend is open to all LSMSA alumni through a Request for Proposals. For fall 2016, 14 alumni were selected from a pool of 29 applicants. Speakers included Dr. Shane Anderson (1987); Jennifer Bernard (1991); Lea Boudreaux (2010); Dan Bougere (1996); Kristina Bradford (1994); Jane Chauvin (1994); Dr. Jeffrey Chen (1993); Dr. Rhonda Fair (1993); Jackie Fletcher (2008); Bonnie Lewis (2008); Chas Nichols (2009); Kimberly Taraba (2010); Amy Traylor (1994); and Dr. Nathaniel Wood (1990). Support for Connections Weekend is provided via the LSMSA Foundation’s Annual Fund. Interested in participating in Connections Weekend 2017? Be on the lookout for application materials sent via email each summer. News may be shared in myLSMSA, upcoming issues of The Gift, and in LSMSA


social networks.


ALUMNI CRUISE The LSMSA Alumni Association is taking sail on its first alumni cruise! We will be cruising on the Carnival Triumph to Cozumel out of New Orleans on October 5 – 9, 2017. Balcony cabins are sold out, but oceanview and inside cabins are still available for $464.13 (oceanview) and $412.13 (inside) per person. Prices are double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Contact Janice Aylsworth Wright (’92) at to book your trip. Deposit is $150 per person and must be paid by May 15, 2017. Make your reservation today to join us for what is sure to be an amazing alumni experience!

Parent volunteers at the 2016 Connections Weekend luncheon

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED FOR TWO UPCOMING EVENTS Interested parents should log into myLSMSA, click on “groups,” and then select the “Parents’ Council” group to fill out a volunteer form. GRADUATION PARTY: MAY 19

The Parents’ Council hosts an entire week of special events for the faculty and staff. Snacks are provided throughout the week, and gifts are given to every faculty and staff member. The week’s activities culminate in a festive catered luncheon to express our appreciation to all for their hard work and dedication. Parents contribute table decorations and door prizes, and serve at the luncheon. Volunteers are needed on Sunday, April 23, for a spruce-up project, and Friday, April 28, to assist with the luncheon.

The LSMSA Graduation event is the largest Parents’ Council event of the year! Located in the LSMSA gymnasium, the event begins after Senior Recognition and includes a festive extravaganza of games, senior gifts, food, music, door prizes — the works! Parents’ Council hosts this party for the entire school body, honoring seniors, their families and friends. Volunteers are needed for setup and teardown of the event. SPRING 2017



Louisiana School School Louisiana for Math, Science, and the Arts

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


for Math, F o u Science, n d aand t the i Arts o n

Baton Rouge, LA Permit No. 70

715 University Parkway, N atc hitoc he s, L A 71 45 7

The LSMSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Consider donating today to support quality education in Louisiana through LSMSA! The LSMSA Foundation develops and manages resources to enhance the work of LSMSA, a preeminent, state-supported, residential high school for LA’s high achieving Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. Your input is always welcome. Contact Katja Thomakos, Executive Director: 318.357.2578

On The Road Boston, Fall 2016

In Memoriam Robert Brown (’87)

Justilien Gaspard (’95) Jimmy D. Long, Sr. Myrna Schexnider Garrick Stewart (’90) Diana Zacarias (’12)





CLASS OF 1987 30-YEAR REUNION March 31 – April 2



ALUMNI CRUISE October 5 – 9

The Gift, Spring 2017 issue  

The Gift, Spring 2017 issue