Faith Over Fear: Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School Prays for Its Future
Published 11:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023
By Karen Trichell
Throughout St. John the Baptist Parish, there are few schools that incorporate both faith and academics into each day. Yet, these qualities are considered the foundation of Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School (AOL), a Pre-K through seventh-grade scholastic program located in LaPlace, Louisiana. Founded in 1980, this institution’s faculty members believe in educating students with reason, religion, and kindness in a faith-filled, academically rigorous environment. But the school’s future is now in question. In October, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced that AOL will close at the end of the 2023-2024 school year because of lower enrollment trends, financial burdens, and changing demographics.
Faculty, students, and alumni said they were deeply saddened by the news. “It’s hard to see this, but I can say that as a Crusader, something that defines our students is that we are resilient and courageous and accept things with grace and adapt all the time,” said Maggie Morton, an alumna from the class of 2015.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans has granted AOL the opportunity to raise $500,000 by Feb. 29th, 2024, to save the school. The institution is hosting several fundraisers over the next three months.
A Christmas Pop-Up Shop took place at the school Dec. 2., featuring vendors selling various items and crafts. That same morning, the school hosted a Breakfast with Santa. LaPlace Frostop will donate 10 percent of its earnings directly to AOL on Dec. 9 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Other fundraisers also have been conducted with the help of several businesses, including Raising Cane’s, Johnny’s Pizza House, and Double Good Popcorn. After the holidays, the school plans to host more fundraisers to reach its goal. The AOL fundraising board met Nov. 27 to discuss ideas for the new year and will announce dates soon.
“There was talk about a gala with a silent auction. This is a great time that we will include our Crusader alumni,” said Addie Melancon, principal of Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School. “Other ideas will be popping up as well.”
Members of the AOL institution say they believe the school provides a distinct learning environment, rooted in love and community.
“I think something really special about Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School is that it’s truly a family,” Morton said. “The faculty and staff there have always been so encouraging and so loving. They made me feel like I was a part of their own family.”
Christine Escobar, a middle school teacher and counselor at AOL, said the school unites through prayer. When she was diagnosed with cancer six years ago, students and faculty began praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet each Friday for her. Escobar said this experience allowed her to realize that AOL truly is a special, powerful community.
“This school is like a family, and it’s been my family for the past ten years,” Escobar said. “I can’t wait to see what great things that this school continues to do.” Members of the tight-knit AOL community say they are determined to save their school and believe they are preserving not just a scholastic program, but also a leader in Catholic education in the River Parishes.
“We really don’t want to close our doors for good, because we are that home away from home for many of our students,” Melancon said.
For questions about donations or inquiries, contact the school office at (985)-652-4532.