Four Mothers of Blue Jay Alumni Are Honored at the Alma Mater Awards Luncheon
Four Blue Jay mothers — Ellen Frischhertz, Marian Gibbs, Andrea Legrand, and Karen Matthews — are the newest recipients of Jesuit High School’s prestigious Alma Mater Award.
At the annual Alma Mater Awards Luncheon, held Tuesday at the Southern Yacht Club and attended by more than 250 guests, the four mothers were honored for their remarkable and incomparable volunteer work. Jesuit president Fr. Anthony McGinn, S.J. ’66 thanked each honoree and presented her with a beautiful Alma Mater Award pin.
This is the 16th year that Jesuit is recognizing its volunteer mothers whose extraordinary contributions of time and talent have greatly benefited the school.
The first Alma Mater Awards Luncheon was held in 1992 and for the next 13 years, it was a much-anticipated fall event. Following Hurricane Katrina, the luncheon was put on hold for a few years before it returned to Jesuit’s calendar in the 2013-14 school year.
About the 2015-2016 Alma Mater Award Recipients
Ellen Frischhertz strongly believes in the importance of parental involvement at Jesuit because it intrinsically supported and complimented the education and guidance received by her trio of Blue Jays — Ben ’98, Ryan ’00, and Jonathan ’06. Ellen quietly and modestly served in a variety of volunteer capacities while her sons were students at Jesuit. The tasks included the menial — stuffing envelopes for school-wide mailings — and the lofty — co-chairing Jesuit’s annual Celebration in 2000. Whenever Ellen was asked to help, she always agreed to give her time. She never said no; she never wavered. She always brought to the table infectious enthusiasm, organizational skills, creative ideas, and her warm smile. Before stepping into Celebration’s ultimate leadership role, Ellen spent several years as a foot soldier in the trenches of the fundraiser, handling reservations and co-chairing its Auction. Additionally, she has volunteered at the annual Jesuit Golf Classic and supervised the intricate details requisite with staging the Family Fun Run, a race up and down Banks Street that for many years served as the official kickoff for the Blue Jay Spring Bazaar. While her sons were students, they also played sports and Ellen was an ardent supporter of the soccer and track teams. To this day, Ellen remains a proud Blue Jay mother.
Marian Gibbs has been a fervent supporter, an engaged volunteer, and a strong leader at Jesuit. As the mother of three Blue Jay alumni — Brian ’90, William ’95, and Emerson ’12 — Marian is someone who eagerly takes charge. She’s easy to work with and shows no hesitation in pulling up her sleeves if it means getting the job done right. Marian has devoted hundreds of hours to numerous projects and events, including hosting the popular Mothers’ Coffee at the start of the new school year, an opportunity for veteran Jesuit mothers to welcome the moms of new Blue Jays. She volunteered her time in several capacities involving Celebration, organizing all aspects of the Auction before readily agreeing to take on the next challenge: co-chairing the entire fundraiser in the 2011-12 school year. Marian has also been a faithful volunteer at the Blue Jay Bazaar. She has worked tirelessly as a “team mom” to provide logistical support and refreshments for Blue Jay baseball as well as Jesuit’s American Legion baseball team (Retif Oilers). Marian served as a liaison between the baseball coaches and parents of players in 2012 when Retif won the American Legion World Series in Shelby, NC. Marian remains a dedicated and loyal believer in Jesuit High School and grateful for the opportunity her sons experienced.
Andrea Legrand is a Jesuit mother who has willingly and cheerfully pulled “triple volunteer duty.” Andrea has the distinction of being one of the very few — if not the only Jesuit parent — to have served as co-chair of Celebration — three times! And she survived! It all started a few years before her oldest Blue Jay son, Andrew, graduated in 2004. Andrea worked tirelessly as a member of various Celebration committees and co-chaired the Auction in 2000. She then took on the challenge of co-chairing Celebration in 2001, the first time in the driver’s seat. She was just warming up. Flash forward a decade. Her youngest Blue Jay, Philip, graduated in 2014. Now a seasoned volunteer, Andrea did not hesitate to jump into the choppy seas of supervising the Online Auction in April 2011. In March 2012, Andrea co-chaired Celebration for a second time. Her third stint as Celebration’s co-chair, in March 2013, coincided with the last time that the event was held on Jesuit’s campus, which had been the venue for about 10 years. When Celebration once again moved off campus in November 2013, it landed at the World War II Museum. Of course, Andrea went with the flow, taking charge of reservations. Andrea also has devoted an extraordinary amount of time to the Blue Jay Bazaar, serving for six years as chair of the popular Instant Bingo booth. Additionally, Andrea has diligently coordinated the efforts to obtain a favorite auction item: the numerous Jesuit athletic team photos that are autographed by the players and coaches and auctioned at Celebration as well as at the Bazaar’s Spirit Booth. When a group of Jesuit mothers convenes in St. Ignatius Hall for important school-wide mailings, Andrea is usually one of the first to arrive to happily stuff envelopes. Her fierce devotion and commitment to Jesuit has never wavered. Andrea will always be an intensely passionate Blue Jay mother.
Karen Matthews is yet another Jesuit mother whose love for the school is manifested in many humble ways. Generous with her time, talent, and resources, Karen has twice opened her home in Old Metairie (most recently last October) to welcome more than 250 guests to the Mothers’ Coffee. Karen has also twice co-chaired the Blue Jay Bazaar: in spring 2005 and the Katrina year, 2006. She chaired Celebration’s patron party in 2007 and, in connection with that fundraiser, she twice donated and hosted a complete Cinco de Mayo Party for 60 people. Karen supervised the Blue Jay Bazaar’s snowball booth for two years. Then in 2010, one of Karen’s Bazaar brainstorms resulted in her creating and co-chairing the wine booth. The popularity of the wine booth has translated into a highly lucrative venture. For the next three years, she faithfully supervised the wine booth. Before passing the torch and relinquishing the managerial duties of the wine booth, Karen taught sales tactics to her step-daughter, Melissa Holmes, as well as to her daughter-in-law, Anne Matthews, both of whom are the mothers of current Blue Jays. It was a seamless transition for everyone and you’ll find Melissa and Anne in the wine booth at the Blue Jay Bazaar on Saturday, March 19. Karen is an enthusiastic supporter of Jesuit wrestling and assists the program whenever an opportunity presents itself. Her son Michael was a state champion wrestler and graduated with the Class of 2007. Karen still can be found cheering with Jesuit parents of current Blue Jay wrestlers at the LHSAA state tournament… And she never misses a Jesuit football game. Karen and her friend Kim DeVun, who is the mother of two Blue Jay alumni, partnered in an interior decorating business. A few years ago, they donated their time and talent to redecorate several rooms, including the Jesuits’ dining room, on the sixth floor of the Banks Street residence and administration building. Whatever Karen has volunteered to do for Jesuit over many years, her labor has never felt like work.