Forty sophomores, juniors, and seniors accompanied by Assistant Director of Admissions Matthew Baham, history teacher Levi Line, Applications Analyst Bren Wells, and mathematics teacher Paul Pascale ’78 traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 9-16 .
Organized by Baham, the week immersed Cubs in community service, college visits, and cultural explorations in New Orleans. The first two days of the trip were primarily tourist activities, while the following five days were devoted mostly to community service.
On the first day of the trip, Cubs all settled in their dorms at Camp Restore, a church site they stayed at during the trip.
Later that evening, the group ate at a restaurant called Mother’s in the heart of the city and then toured Tulane University and Loyola University, New Orleans.
On Saturday the students went on a swamp tour to experience New Orleans’ wildlife as well as visited the National WWII History Museum. The following day the students attended a Mass at St. Louis Cathedral and saw the famous French Market, a popular New Orleans tourist attraction. The students also ate at Cafe Du Monde and went on a tour of Laura Plantation, a historic Creole plantation.
Director of Community Service Tom Zeko said, “The New Orleans trip is great for Cub brotherhood, and you are able to experience a culture different from our own by meeting different people and experiencing different service-related issues.”
From Monday through Thursday, the students were separated into four groups of 10 students to build homes in New Orleans neighborhoods that were hit especially hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history. Students helped in a variety of ways such as placing wonderboard––a cement-based waterproof construction material––against the walls and floors of kitchens and bathrooms, laying down wood flooring, painting walls, framing windows and bordering the ceilings.
Junior Aven Serpa said, “I would really recommend the New Orleans trip because it’s a lot of fun exploring the city and experiencing what it’s like to live there while still being able to help change someone’s life.”
Junior Nathan Gohar said, “I really loved the trip because I enjoyed serving the New Orleans community and helping families move into a new home.”
In addition to building new homes, the students also repaired a woman’s house that had been damaged by mold.
Wells said, “I would highly recommend this trip because it is a really rewarding and satisfying experience to help the people of New Orleans who are still recovering and rebuilding today.”
After the students finished building and repairing homes, they enjoyed a jazz concert at Preservation Hall. They also traversed Bourbon Street in the famous French Quarter of the city.
Senior Michael Soto said, “I enjoyed touring the historic city of New Orleans, specifically going to Preservation Hall and the French Quarter, while also contributing to the continuous rebuilding of the city.”
Another group of 30 students made the same trip to New Orleans from July 21-28 with Baham, Pascale, and counselor Angela Reno Valvardi.
According to Zeko, next year, the New Orleans trip will change its location to Houston, Texas, because of the recent damage by Hurricane Harvey. To learn more about the planned Houston service immersion, check the principal’s newsletter and the Loyola website in January and February of 2018.