Banquer joins St. Joan of Arc as development director

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2001


LAPLACE – St. Joan of Arc Catholic School has a new development director just in time for the new school session. As students filed into the school for their first day Thursday morning, she stood at the entrance greeting them and asking if they were excited about the new year. Some students were excited, and some were not as thrilled, but Helen Banquer, who just signed on full-time with the school, was elated to be starting the new year with a school she loves. “I think it’s going to be a great year,” she said, sitting in her new office later that morning. She is still unpacking her things and getting the room ready for the year. Banquer, who spent 21 years working for the St. Charles Parish School System, retired two years ago and went into business for herself doing public relations contracts. One of her favorite clients was St. Joan of Arc, so when Principal Larry Bourgeois asked her to come on board full-time, she said she would do it. In the past, teachers and administrators have divided the tasks between themselves, and now Banquer will have sole responsibility for those tasks. “The ultimate goal is essentially for student recruitment and to form links between the school and community and businesses,” said Banquer. “We want to pull them all together and link them together.” Banquer has created a marketing plan and is also working on a step-by-step plan to enhance parent involvement. She will also be responsible for fund-raising, publicity efforts, establishing community and business partners and forming civic connections. Some of the upcoming fund-raisers include the carnival ball, the annual golf tournament, the spring fair and an adult dance. In addition to her other duties, Banquer also does quite a bit of grant writing. When she was contracted by St. Joan of the Arc, the school received several grants, including an Entergy Partnership that allowed second-grade students to correspond with children from other towns and exchange packages with their penpals that included items from the River Parishes area. The Brown Foundation grant, Louisiana Pride, also gave seventh-graders an opportunity to learn more about their heritage. Another grant, the River Region Arts and Humanities grant, will allow the school to put on a drama production this Fall. Something Banquer believes is very important for the school is the strong relationships they have with local businesses, such as Come Back Inn, Loisel’s Restaurant, Bull’s Corner Restaurant and Winn-Dixie. Banquer said she is also creating real estate packets, so new people moving in can learn about St. Joan of Arc. She has plans for an alumni development program as well, but said she will work on that when she finishes some of the grant writing and the implementing of programs. “This is a really good environment,” said Banquer. “It’s like a family here.” According to Bourgeois, it was time to have one person in charge of development and Banquer was the perfect person for the job. He added that she has four strengths that are very important to the position: enthusiasm, creativity, networking skills and contacts and experience. “Her energy brings enthusiasm to the whole school. She is an extreme asset,” he said.