SJA’s Student Council takes active role in shaping campus culture

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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LAPLACE — This week, students at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School will celebrate Spirit Week in a variety of ways – from themed dress down days to a faculty vs. student volleyball game and fundraising for missions in between. The festivities are being organized by the school’s Student Council – a club that has played a major role at the school this academic year.

In her fall inaugural address to her fellow inductees, SJA’s 2022-2023 Student Council President Margaux Mouton established an attitude that would define the role and approach of the year’s council.

“I told myself that this is what God has called me to do,” she said. “If He thinks I’m ready for this, I shall trust in Him.”

The Student Council has followed that inspiration for Christian witness ever since. The group raised hundreds of dollars for Hurricane Ian relief for Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Florida, organized and packed over 50 Thanksgiving food boxes for the needy, and are hoping to match last year’s donation of $2,500 for missions with this week’s Penny War initiative. The club has also used money that it raised to surprise the school’s teachers and staff with coffee and breakfast.

Student Council officers – including Mouton, Vice President Kaden Cusimano, Secretary A’Jah Rhodes and Treasurer Lily Brady – all attended the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Catholic Schools Week Mass, further solidifying their faith-centered approach to leadership.

Brady spoke of the importance of using time and resources for this purpose.

“We think it is important to help those inside and outside of our community because our Catholic faith teaches us that we should help people without expectation of compensation,” she said.

SJA’s Student Council also regularly gives their time to younger students on campus by sponsoring Homework Help Nights, where they help students through homework and assignments.

“Homework Help provides help for all involved,” SJA third grade teacher and Student Council co-sponsor Leslie Arceneaux explained. “Parents get a night free from helping their children with homework, and attendees get help from students that were once in their shoes. Those helping are able to give back the knowledge they have gained over the years.”

Encouraging school pride has also been a major focus for the Student Council. Faculty sponsor Ryan Flynn said the group has decorated the hallways at SJA with motivational posters, which encourage students to perform to their potential and embrace their faith.

“They also hosted a Viking Spirit Night for junior varsity and varsity basketball games,” he said. “Over 130 Vikings and teachers either participated in or attended the event. This week’s Spirit Week is a capstone event for a year that has already been full of Student Council activity.”

Flynn added that SJA’s Student Council is entirely student led.

“Officers meet weekly to prepare agendas for chapter meetings, which occur bi-monthly,” he said. “They also discuss initiatives and schedule volunteers. The president communicates directly with the principal, the vice-president serves as liaison to the representatives, the treasurer plans fundraisers and makes budget decisions, and the secretary sends communication to representatives, runs the Council calendar, and prepares meeting agendas. The Student Council is open to all middle schoolers and continues to grow every year.”

Student Council Secretary A’Jah Rhodes said being involved in the club has enhanced her education at SJA.

“The added responsibility allows me and others to learn organization and planning, which will help in high school and beyond,” she said.