18th Annual Commencement Luncheon Welcomes Class of 2019 as Alumni
The 18th annual Commencement Luncheon on Friday, May 3, saw Blue Jay alumni of all ages officially welcome the Class of 2019 into the Alumni Association. Held in the Bienville Room at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the event brought hundreds of alumni, many of whom were friends or relatives of the graduating seniors.
Seniors entered the Bienville Room to boisterous applause from alumni as the Jesuit Fight Song filled the room with Blue Jay Spirit. The soon-to-be alumni and the actual alumni sat together at tables of ten to share stories of life at Carrollton and Banks, stories from yesterday and today. After an introduction and prayer by Jesuit president Fr. Christopher Fronk, S.J., special recognition was given to three Blue Jays who have shaped alumni efforts for decades.
The first recognized alumnus was Hank Ecuyer ’51. For more than 28 years, Ecuyer has offered the school wise counsel in all matters related to alumni affairs through his membership first on the Alumni Board and then on the Alumni Steering Committee. Somewhere along the line Ecuyer decided to donate one recurring day of his life to Jesuit High School. And so for as long as alumni office personnel can remember, their Tuesdays have been brightened by Ecuyer’s presence as he assists Brother William Dardis in updating alumni contact information and in managing the In Memoriam listing of deceased alumni and their relatives.
Then, Br. Billy Dardis, S.J. ’58 was recognized for his 56 years of service to Jesuit. Of Br. Dardis, Fr. Fronk said, “His classroom is the yard, the cafeteria, the back field, the gym, the commons, the maintenance shop, the school bus, and his teaching is the practical lessons of life. Brother is the superglue that keeps Jesuit together. He is an active participant in the formation of students and colleagues alike.” Fr. Fronk concluded his remarks by saying, “Ignatius encouraged his followers to ‘find God in all things.’ Daily at Jesuit High School we find God present in Brother Dardis. Today we thank God for the blessing of Brother Dardis in our lives.”
Mat Grau ’68, Jesuit’s alumni director, was the last to be honored as he approaches the end of his 44 years of service to the school. In his words of thanks, Fr. Fronk described Grau as “the exemplar of the selfless leader.” He then added, “His care for each person, his empathy as a listener and supporter, make him a trusted colleague and reliable adviser. His knowledge of Jesuit and discernment in promoting its core values has been a shining light to the community.”
Blue Jays then heard from the president of the alumni association, John Zolliner ’85, who represented all alumni in welcoming the newest members into the association. Jesuit’s principal Peter Kernion ’90 then spoke of the many contributions made by the Class of 2019 to carry on the torch of excellence at Carrollton and Banks.
The featured speaker, John Elstrott ’66, made reference to Socrates’ insight – “to know thyself is the beginning of all wisdom” – to highlight the importance of self-knowledge for facing the challenges of the world and making a difference. Elstrott’s name has been synonymous with entrepreneurship education at Tulane University for more than 30 years. Today, thanks to a California-based company, Dr. Elstrott’s name is synonymous with education in rural India as well. In 2012, Traditional Medicinals, of which Dr. Elstrott has been a long-time board member and partner, honored him with the dedication of the Dr. John B. Elstrott Elementary School in Dayakaur, India. Sought after for his deep knowledge of the workings of business, Dr. Elstrott served as the Chairman of the Board of Whole Foods from 1994 to 2017, prior to its sale to Amazon.
At Tulane, Dr. Elstrott taught courses in entrepreneurship and explored various research interests. He founded of the Tulane Family Business Center, and today is the Emeritus Executive Director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane’s Freeman School of Business.
Dr. Elstrott has won numerous teaching awards at the national, regional, and local levels. In 1997 he was named the Ernst and Young Louisiana Entrepreneur of the Year for his support of entrepreneurship education. In 2002 he was recognized by New Orleans City Business as the “innovator of the year.”
He and his wife Patty have two adult children – son Justin, a graduate of the Class of 1998 and daughter Rachel. Also, they have one grandchild.