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Team Up Against Violence teen peace rally set

Teenagers from Archbishop Rummel, De La Salle and St. Paul’s School strive to do their part to create a world without violence. On March 27 at 1 p.m., they will hold the second annual “Team Up Against Violence” Rally on the steps of Notre Dame Seminary, 2901 South Carrollton Ave., New Orleans. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will offer the opening prayer.

The hour-long event will include music by Archbishop Rummel’s choir; speaker Nell Bolton, Catholic Relief Services Regional Technical Advisor for Peacebuilding; a dramatic reading by De La Salle students; a personal experience from New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson; and second line led by St. Paul’s band. Archdiocese of New Orleans Catholic School Superintendent Dr. Jan Lancaster also will speak.

Inspirational, keepsake bracelets with the date and Team Up Against Violence, will be distributed, and refreshments will be served at the end.

“The students have done most of the planning,” Denise Otillio, Archbishop Rummel High School’s religion formation director, said. She is one of the event moderators with Jeannine Schmidt of St. Paul’s and Tony Behan of De La Salle.

Last year’s event was spearheaded by De La Salle students Julien Purpura, Ryan Walden and Shelby Boyd. Purpura designed the event logo that incorporates the core principles – respect, believe, empower, educate, include – of Lasallian high schools operating in the spirit of St. John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. All three schools – Rummel, De La Salle and St. Paul’s – are Lasallian schools.
This year, the event was changed from a Saturday to a Friday in hopes more students would participate. Organizers say the ideal would be to have all high school in the New Orleans area – Catholic, private and public – represented in unison against violence. Every school is invited to wear school club or organization shirts or team uniforms.

Why it’s important
Darryl Coulon, a De La Salle senior who is part of the event’s core leadership team, said he attended last year’s event with the campus ministry’s retreat team.

“I thought it was really important to get the word out about social injustice in New Orleans,” Coulon said. “We do have a crime problem, and I thought youth could be a good part of that process (of change). ... Being silent is one of the worst things you can do. Talking about it (violence) and getting it on people’s minds get them thinking what they do or don’t do could help or hinder something.”

Coulon said it’s important that students meet individuals from other schools and develop a common interest against violence. Over the past few years, the area Lasallian schools have formed a closer alliance, a bond that has been beneficial to all. St. Paul’s joined the rally for the first time this year.

Other leadership team members include Rummel’s Jared Croal, Nick Bourgeois, Joseph McGowan, Ben Browning, Oswaldo Infanti, Michael Neal; and St. Paul’s Yehia Elkersh, Faiz Salam, Lane Sumrall and Max Tepper; and De La Salle’s Christiana Ellard; and teacher moderators from each of the three schools.

“Hopefully, as it continues next year, we will get more students to participate,” Otillio said at a recent leadership planning meeting held at Archbishop Rummel.

Schools can call Tony Behan, 895-5717,  email tbehan@dela to participate.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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