Ursuline Academy, founded 1727, conducted its 294th commencement exercise on May 15, 2021 in The National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor – located on the Academy’s campus. Mrs. Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, delivered the commencement address.
The ceremony began with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Fr. Nathan O’Halloran. Ursuline Academy’s High School Dean of Students, Sue Heidel, served as Mistress of Ceremonies, while Head of High School Dr. Tracy Bonday and Interim Academy President Dr. Margarita O’Byrne Curtis presented awards and diplomas to the graduating seniors.
The valedictorian was Cecilia Barras, the daughter of Renee and Ian Barras. She was a member of Diversity of Women Club, Queen’s Players, Mu Alpha Theta, and National Honor Society. She served as President of Tri-M Music Honor Society and Secretary of Book Club in her senior year. She has played junior varsity and varsity tennis for several years. Cecilia was awarded Superior Recitalist in the piano division of the New Orleans Music Teachers’ Association Romantic-Contemporary Auditions in 2019. She participated in multiple District Literary Rallies and placed in Biology – advancing to State. She will attend Tulane University in the Honors Program and major in Environmental Biology.
The salutatorian was Sophie Chevis, the daughter of Kay and Marcus Chevis. She was the president of National Art Honors Society. She was a member of the Ursuline Sailing Team, Diversity of Women Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and National Honor Society. She participated and placed in the Louisiana District and State Literary Rallies for several years. She will attend Savannah College of Art and Design, where she was awarded the SCAD Distinguished Scholars Award.
The following students were ranked, along with the valedictorian and salutatorians, in the top ten of the graduating class: Annabel E. Beatmann, Sydney C. Cuneo, Olivia M. Elam, Madeline K. Ford, Allyson G. Liljeberg, Emily L. Nguyen, Riley K. Talbot, and Paige M. Tschirn.
The highest award that Ursuline gives, the CLC Medal, is given in recognition of the senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has exemplified to an outstanding degree the qualities of Courtesy, Loyalty, and Courage expected of the Ursuline student. The recipient of this year’s CLC Medal was Olivia M. Elam.
The Edward A. LaFaye Memorial Award is given for outstanding humanitarian service to those inside and outside of Ursuline Academy. It is decided by vote of the senior class. The seniors’ choice for this award was Riley K. Talbot.
The Sedes Sapientiae Medal, which takes its name from one of the titles of Our Lady “Seat of Wisdom,” is presented annually to the senior whose scholarship, achievement, and loyalty, in the opinion of the faculty, have been consistent and outstanding. This year’s recipient was Riley K. Talbot.
Karen R. Stiegler was selected as the 2021 Cor Unum Award recipient by the Ursuline Alumnae Association. Candidates are judged solely on their love for Ursuline Academy and their honest expression of what the Academy means to them.
The 61 graduates earned a total of $8,048,388 in four-year scholarships.
The other graduates were Taylor G. Adams, Marah T. Alsghair, Audrey C. Baldo, Amanda I. Barrett, Laci M. Barrow, Isabella M. Bazile, Terryce I. Boseman, Jaden V. Boykin, Kelsey M. Brouphy, Fallyn M. Buquoi,
Sofia J. Butler, Emily C. Calcagno, Isabel V. Cambias, Leslie E. Castaneda, Megan E. Charles, Jaylyn R. Clark, Kylie E. Clarke, Julia L. Durel, Amelie S. Evans, Erika L. Felder,
Claudia C. Guenther, Miranda L. Hartman, Bella G. Harvey, Hannah G. Hebert, Cali R. Isenberg, Maya S. Johnson, Sarah E. Keller, Madalyn D. Kempton, Kennedy A. Kimbrough, Lisa M. Liaci,
Nia A. Magee, Nadja M. McGill, Shahadah Z. Muhammad, Cassidy L. O'Brien, Olivia O. Oliver, Emily G. Ott, Elise K. Plaisance, Kirstin R. Plaisance, Emma P. Pond, Abigail E. Ready,
Anastasia C. Sauce, Zoe E. Schello, Sarah A. Sixkiller, Arianne Y. Snipes, Karen R. Stiegler, Hui Ying Stock-Bordnick, Shay E. Trahant, Elizabeth D. Valentino-Richardson, Alexis D. Viellion, Samantha J. Vignes, and Tyrielle J. Williams.