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St. Bernard Parish School Board Hosts Annual Celebrating Our Community Banquet

St. Bernard Parish Hosts Community Recognition Celebration


The St. Bernard Parish School Board recently hosted its annual Celebrating Our School Community Banquet, an event honoring outstanding achievement and commitment in public education. More than 400 people attended the celebration held at Chalmette High School.

After the national anthem, the presentation of colors, an invocation from School Board Vice President Katherine Lemoine, and a warm welcome from Superintendent Doris Voitier, School Board president Diana Dysart addressed those in attendance.

"Tonight, we gather to celebrate those individuals whose tireless efforts truly bring unity to our community and to pay tribute to all of you who change the lives of our students each day,” said Dysart. "On behalf of the Board, we thank you for your contributions and your dedication. We hope you enjoy the food and fellowship with the friends and family around you."

School Board members then recognized each of the 11 students of the year. Those outstanding youngsters included seven elementary students, three middle school students, and one high school honoree. Those recognized were:

- Arabi Elementary | Audrey Damico

- Arlene Meraux Elementary School | Alyvia Crawford

- Chalmette Elementary | Samuel Reeb

- Joseph J. Davies Elementary | Raelynn Prestenbach

- J. F. Gauthier Elementary School | Riley Noto

- Lacoste Elementary School | Oliver Wood

- W. Smith, Jr. Elementary | Italy Gattis

- Andrew Jackson Middle School | Jordin Noote

- N. P. Trist Middle School | Jewel Benazo

- St. Bernard Middle School | Kinlee Pohlmann

- Chalmette High School | Aniya Harris

Voitier congratulated these students and honored their parents.

"The eleven recognized tonight are representatives of all who make our daily efforts worthwhile. For their parents who are here this evening, thank you for your guidance, unconditional love, and support."

11 of the schools honored a volunteer, as well as an outstanding support employee for their selfless contributions and support of the school system. 

Volunteers honored were:


- Arabi Elementary School: Samantha Schulte

- Chalmette Elementary School: Gwen Boudreaux

- Davies Elementary School: Cindy Burkett

- Gauthier Elementary School: Ashley Loper

- Lacoste Elementary School: Jenny Lacoste

- Meraux Elementary School: Michelle Muscarello

- Smith Elementary School: Taravia Turner

- Andrew Jackson Middle School: Nick Mendoza

- St. Bernard Middle School: Pablo Ramirez

- Trist Middle School: Kimberly Egana

 - Chalmette High School: Charlene Strain

The outstanding school support employees represent various departments like transportation, maintenance, custodial and secretarial. Those recognized for their contributions were:


- Arabi Elementary School and District-winner: Efaaf Jaber

- Chalmette Elementary School: Karen Lewis

- Davies Elementary School: Morgan Davis

- Gauthier Elementary School: Natilee Alfonso

- Lacoste Elementary School: Adrian Reese

- Meraux Elementary School: Carinella Isidore

- Smith Elementary School: Gina Castellanos

- Andrew Jackson Middle School: James Evans

- St. Bernard Middle School: Michelle Boyd

- Trist Middle School: District-Winner Bonni Kreger

- Rowley Alternative School: Lacori East

- Chalmette High School and District-winner: Clara “Sissy” Filizola

- Central Office: Judy Rousselle

- Maintenance/Transportation: Lisa Howard

A touching tribute — a video honoring the district's retirees — followed. Voitier thanked the individuals who were showcased for their years of dedicated service.

"For these individuals joining us tonight – loyalty, perseverance, and allegiance are not just words, they are values. We thank them for their service and wish them the best of luck in the new chapters of their lives.

Those retiring included:

  • Maintenance Department 

    • Janet Richard

  • Arabi Elementary 

    • Robin Austin

    • Melinda Decker

    • Mary Cochrane

  • Chalmette Elementary 

    • Shannon Clement

    • Camille Richard

  • Davies Elementary 

    • Tonya Lambert

    • Phyllis Peabody

    • Kim Sellars

  • Lacoste Elementary 

    • Mary O’Neil

  • Smith Elementary 

    • Dedra Major

    • Odile Campbell

  • Andrew Jackson 

    • Trudy Dickinson

    • Monica Knauer

    • Estelle LeDesma

  • Trist Middle 

    • Jeffrey Joseph

  • St. Bernard Middle

    • Donna Kramer

  • Chalmette High School 

    • Paul Frey

    • Denise Strauss

    • Myra Faust

    • Clara “Sissy” Filizola

    • Karen Melerine

  • Central Office 

    • Beverly Loze

    • Cynthia Englande

    • Trevor Smith

    • LeeAnne Harlton

    • Tommie Powell Jr.

During dinner, guests also enjoyed music provided by the CHS Jazz Band and the CHS Voices. Then, the awards continued with Deputy superintendent Mary Lumetta at the podium.

"Each year, I am both honored and humbled to present these next awards.,” said Lumetta. "In many ways, our school people are the heart of our community, and we are truly blessed to have so many passionate and compassionate leaders in our schools.”

She then focused on the district's teachers of the year.

"Their passion and commitment are meaningful and impactful,” said Lumetta. "Each of these dynamic dozen has a gift – one of love, commitment,  and dedication..”

The teachers honored were:

- Arabi Elementary | Jonathan Williams

- Arlene Meraux Elementary | Anthony Martino

- Chalmette Elementary| Jessica Battaglia

- Joseph J. Davies | Monica Oggs

- J. F. Gauthier | Shannon Ruiz

- Lacoste Elementary | District-winner Melissa Dusang

- W. Smith, Jr. Elementary | Edna Cagnolatti

- Andrew Jackson Middle School | Jewel Morgan

- N. P. Trist Middle School | Marcey Fradella

- St. Bernard Middle School | District-winner Christina McCarta

- Rowley Alternative | Erika Lowe

- Chalmette High School | District-winner Lynda Rost

As it does each year, the banquet ended on a high note with one student from each school honoring a Parent of the Year. Students read their winning essays on camera, paying tribute to the love and support received from parents, grandparents, and other relatives who helped raise them through some difficult situations. Parents and guardians honored included

- Tonika Washington, Arabi Elementary School

- Sanas Murray, Arlene Meraux Elementary School

- Sindy Lopez & Oscar Perez Moran, Chalmette Elementary School

- Kim Kellum, Joseph Davies Elementary  School

- Careisha Steele, J. F. Gauthier Elementary School

- Wayne Walker & Rebecca Moore, Lacoste Elementary School

- Earl Russell, W. Smith, Jr. Elementary School

- Viani Vasquez, Andrew Jackson Elementary School

- Jean & Jerry Hambrice, N. P. Trist Middle School

- Natasha Bell & James Bell, St. Bernard Middle School

- Rock Dwaine Hill Jr., Jr., Chalmette High School

Voitier used her closing remarks to congratulate the winners once more and introduce the District’s theme for the 2024-2025 school year.


"We have spent this evening celebrating the people who make our programs and partnerships possible. We recognize that we develop minds but also the hearts of our children. Together those things create our legacy of learning,” said Voitier. "But behind each legacy is a lot of hard work. Teaching is hard work and bringing learning to life requires so much. Sure, knowing the subject matter and being a good leader in the classroom are critical to our success, but what success really means is having all children in our care focused on becoming the very best version of themselves.  That’s what we will focus our theme on for the next school year. A commitment to helping every child, everyday- Unlock Their Potential."
School Board Member Carly Jackson closed out the night by offering the benediction. "God, we pray for guidance and wisdom in preparing our young people for the challenges and leadership of tomorrow. It is in your name we ask these things. Amen. Thank you and good night."