Scholarships, honors bestowed at chamber event

MORGAN CITY, La. — Scholarships were awarded to seven graduates of St. Mary Parish high schools during the St. Mary Chamber of Commerce’s annual Education and Appreciation Night Thursday.

In addition, teachers of the year were recognized.

Money raised by the chamber during the fundraiser will benefit scholarships for the 2014 graduating class.

While the chamber raised $6,525 during the live auction at the event, President Donna Meyer declined to give a total of funds raised.

“It was very successful. It was a great night. We’re very excited about how everything went. We thank all of the businesses that donated auction items,” Meyer said.

One student from each of the eight high schools in the parish received $1,500 scholarships. They are Rachel Lemoine, Patterson High; Kayla South, Morgan City High; Leigh Nugent, Hanson Memorial; Annabel Picard, Franklin High; Savanna Thibodaux, Centerville School; Zachary Aucoin, Central Catholic; and Shereen Richard, Berwick High.

Lemoine was named the chamber’s Student of the Year, and she will receive an additional monetary amount.

St. Mary Parish Teachers of the Year were honored as well. They are Heather Gros, Bayou Vista Elementary; Rachel Auenson, Berwick Junior High; and Sheryl Gibbons, Patterson High.

Gibbons has passed into the state finalist round for Teacher of the Year, the second time in her career, Superintendent Donald Aguillard said. Additionally, he noted, Berwick High Principal Buffy Fegenbush is a state finalist for Principal of the Year.

In addition, $2,000 was given to the South Central Louisiana Technical College, Young Memorial campus so that the school can provide smaller scholarships to students in need.

“The Charlie Roe Scholarship Fund started 17 years ago. … From there, it kind of just grew and (16th Judicial District Attorney) Phil Haney’s office jumped in to make sure that the fund continued to live. Phil Haney’s office really makes this happen for us,” Meyer said.

“Every penny from the auction goes into the scholarship fund, every penny,” she added.

Haney and workers from his office — Tommy Longman and Catalene Theriot — spearhead the solicitation of donations for the auction each year, Meyer said. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have money coming in like this,” Meyer said.

Haney said his office works on the fundraiser as a way of giving back to those who give so much.

“We like to promote something that’s obviously good for the community. Our school board and our superintendent do a great job of educating our kids. What better way to show our gratitude than to work with the school board and the chamber to make sure we recognize students that deserve it and recognize teachers? It’s just a real positive thing to do, and we enjoy doing it,” Haney said.

Aguillard praised the fundraiser and appreciation banquet as well.

“This is a wonderful event because it showcases the community’s appreciation for the hard work that goes on, not only at the student level, but also at the teacher level. For the community, the chamber specifically, to generate revenue to be given back in scholarships and recognition programs is something the board is incredibly appreciative of the recognition that’s so well deserved and a strong, strong, strong commitment from the St. Mary community in general for public education,” Aguillard said.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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