Sister Lieux steps out for her schools
LAFAYETTE — After Oct. 18, it will be all but impossible to question Sister Lynne Lieux’s dedication to the Schools of the Sacred Heart: Grand Coteau.
Lieux is headmistress over both Catholic schools: Academy of the Sacred Heart and Berchmans Academy. She’s also one of the participants in an upcoming fundraiser modeled after TV’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
She jokes that there can be no greater proof of love than this event — dancing before an expected crowd of more than 800.
“I am not a dancer,” Lieux said, adding a little later, “It’s taken everything in me to do this.”
The idea for the event arose during a brainstorming session between Katy Svendson and her sister, Suzy Kimball, who had done a similar event in New Iberia.
“It is guaranteed to be a show stopper,” Svendson said.
Each of the nine dance couples will be paired with a professional choreographer. Some of the dancers come in with experience while others have none, Svendson said.
The dancers are competing for votes, which can be logged online at the school’s website, www.sshcoteau.org, or at the event at a cost of $1 per vote.
Funds from the benefit will go toward covering the gap between the cost of educating students and tuition, Svendson said.
The Academy of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1821, enrolls girls in pre-primary through 12th grade. The school provides residential accommodations for students in grades 7-12.
Berchmans Academy, founded in 2006 and located on the same 225-acre campus in St. Landry Parish, enrolls boys in pre-primary through high school.
Lieux said the long-term benefits of the fundraiser “is that it is bringing great exposure to our school within the community and it is also widening the number of people who are familiar with the Schools of the Sacred Heart.”
Lieux will dance with Baxter Saucier, an engineer with Chevron and a father of six children, four of whom attend Sacred Heart. Saucier said he and his wife want their children to be leaders in the community. Both believe an education at Sacred Heart helps to prepare them for that, Saucier said.
An event like this is a “great opportunity to give back,” said this self-professed “ham for attention.”
The organizers “knew exactly what answer they would get when they called to ask me,” Saucier said.
Saucier admitted that dancing has been more challenging than he initially expected, “but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Part of the challenge has been the time commitment, he said, adding that he and Lieux practice about three nights a week for about one to two hours per night.
Lieux said all the dancers and choreographers are volunteering their time.
“The amount of time that dancers and choreographers have given to this is unbelievable,” Lieux said “I have the sense that the people who are dancing and the choreographers are deeply committed.”
Both Saucier and Lieux said they have some tricks up their sleeves for the night of the performance, although both declined to offer any hints.
“We’re not saying what our costumes are or even what we’re dancing to,” Lieux said. “That’s part of the allure.”
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Heymann Performing Arts Ballroom. For more information, visit the school's website at www.sshcoteau.org.
The participants are:
- Cookie Bacque and Brad Roth with choreographer Lou DeCoto Britt.
- Liz Simon DeJean and Ted Viator with choreographer Missy Bienvenu Andrade.
- Michele Ezell and Jerry Prejean with choreographer Jill Listi.
- Alicia Gandy and Jimmy Hebert with choreographer Kelsea Anzalone.
- Christine Lemoine and Lawrence Svendson, Katy Svendson’s husband, with choreographer Rebecca Landry.
- Sister Lieux and Baxter Saucier with choreographer Rachel LaValley.
- Debbie Pearce and Dan Hare with choreographer Jade Gauthreaux.
- Christina Popp and Joe Godchaux with choreographer Cathy Hebert.
- Kristina Suire and David Boulet with choreographer Christine Doucet.