A Year to Remember…The Yellow Jackets (1949)


 Xavier University Preparatory (1949)

Once the home to Southern University, this building housed Xavier students until 1954. The decision to tear down the beautiful Roman structure was not an easy one, but constant repairs had become too expensive. Construction of the new building began in the summer of ’52 and dedication took place in 1954.

When the 1948-49 school year began, the senior class of Xavier University Preparatory anxiously awaited their final year of high school. The war had ended just 3 years prior and everyone had been affected. Faculty members, Hiriam Workman and Leon Jackson (both coaches) had joined the Army. Mr. Parker and Mr. Floyd both joined the Marines and were among the first black men ever to volunteer and be accepted into the Marine Corp.

As the country relaxed, so did the students. In New Orleans, the class of ’49 was excited about a new home device called television and a new local black radio station, WYLD. The music of Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and Louis Armstrong filled the airwaves. Carnival was very special this year as students gathered to catch a glimpse of Louis Armstrong as he reigned as King Zulu.

But the real highlights of the whole senior year would be the publication of the Prep’s first ever hardback yearbook as well as the two championship sport trophies Xavier Prep would win; City Champs in football and State Championship in basketball. 

Editorial Staff (Yearbook)


Left to Right: Gordon Sanders, Peggy Spooner, Hal Van Lieteau, Patricia La Vigne, Helen Castenell, Ronald Rousseve

Before 1949, Xavier Prep only produced pamphlet type books containing photos of seniors and, in some cases, ads. Although there are no faculty members or underclass students photos contained here, the students above did an excellent job !


 Football Letter Men 

Left to Right: Therell Darensbourg, Eddie Flint, Charles Lazard, Daszia Weber, Hal Van Lieteau, Gordon Sanders, Raymond Conner, Shelton Lewis

The above students were the senior members of the football team.  They won the title of “City Champs” by beating out L.B. Landry and B.T. Washington in the finals.

Football “City Champs”

Standing (left to right):  Elliot Willard, Shelton Lewis # 44, Eddie Flint # 32, Alex  Russ # 33

Kneeling (left to right):  Edmund Biagas # 24, Daszia Weber # 99, William Norwood # 27, Hal Van Lieteau #23, Michael Houlemard # 12, Raymond Connor #29, Milton Coulon # 25



Top Row: Jackie Jones, Edith Lopez, Ella Dejoie, Juanita Caiton, Gloria Olivier

Bottom Row: Miriam Epps, Myralin Donalson, Marilyn Epps


 Basketball State Champion

Standing: Coach Leon Jackson, Victor Labat # 9, Eddie Flint # 14, H. Richards # 15 , Frank McManus # 5, Simon McGee # 13, Milton Coulon # 17, Gordon Sanders #10, Assistant Coach  Evans

Seated: Harvey Hill # 7, Warren Ferdinand # 6, Ernest Williams # 11, Virgel Duplessis # 16, Peter Priestley # 12, Joseph Wallace , Ellsworth Wiltz # 3 

The 1949 basketball team took the spotlight that year by walking away with not only the city championship but the state one as well. In the NOCHSAA basketball tournament, they beat B.T.Washington 42-34 to win first place. The Yellow Jackets’ top scorer was Simon McGee with 11 points while Eddie Flint and Ernest Williams turned in sterling defensive performances.

Simon McGee

Ernest Williams

Eddie Flint

Milton Coulon


Virgel Duplessis



Geometry Class  

Left to Right: Ursula Ferrand, Jewel Gahie, Roland Foster, Miss A. Tervalon


Science Lab


Drama Class (Operetta)

Back Row: (left to right) Eunice Wicker, Lou Adrienne Dejoie, Kara Rousseau, Gloria Williams, Jean Watkins

Front Row: Myrtle Douroux, Opal Bordenave, Patricia LaVigne, Shirley Boissiere, May Dell Brussard


 Music Class (Girls’ Violin)



Left to Right: May Dell Brussard, Joyce Miller, Kara Rousseau, Ida Lorraine Jules, Patricia La Vigne


 Home Economics Class

(Sewing with Sr. Christopher)


Left to Right: Ladies on Sewing Machines…Gloriadean Cuiellette, Elizabeth Stewart, ———–, Verlie Rodriguez, Marie Fisher, Edith Lopez

The Senior Prom

Sources: “The GOAD” ( the title of Xavier Prep’s 1949 yearbook); The Louisiana Weekly, 25 December 1948 page 6 and 05 March 1949 page 6.

A very special thank you to Verlie Rodriguez Decay for allowing me to use her yearbook as my source of information and especially for providing me with the names of so many students who were not identified in the photos above. What a sharp mind she has 68 years later !!

Also, a special thank you to Ernest Williams, a member of that winning basketball team, for bringing this story to my attention and assisting with names of students also.

Lolita Villavasso Cherrie


13 thoughts on “A Year to Remember…The Yellow Jackets (1949)

  1. I remember going with my mother and brother to a concert in the old building’s auditorium balcony when it still served Xavier University students, and to hear LaVerne Monette singing an aria when it served XUP students. Later I graduated from the new building in 1956.

    It was a nice surprise to see my cousins Ronald Rousseve in a photo of the yearbook staff and Louadrian Dejoie in the photo of the drama class. Ronald is gone now, but I’m sending a link to this article to Louadrian.

    As usual a wonderful job, Lolita, in remembering our history. Thanks so much.

  2. The Epps twins in the cheerleader photo are Miriam on the left and Marilyn on the right. They can probably give the name of the unknown cheerleader. Simon Magee (deceased) is Alden’s cousin.

  3. I was in the freshman class of 1952. This article is wonderful. We had those teachers but we were the first to come to the new building in our sophomore year.. Freshman year was divided. We were in a classroom at Corpus Christi .. I wish I had my year book from any year between 1952-1956..

  4. What a great article. I am a graduate of Xavier Orep, class of 1972. Mrs. Sondra Reine was my science teacher at Prep and I was in Miss Helen Castenell’s 4th grade class st Valena C. Jones.

  5. Great publication, noticed my “big brother “, Vic Labat
    I remember him playing basketball in our backyard on Laurel St.,but didn’t know he was a champion!!!

  6. Thanks for sharing this. My mom (Jean Gardina Garnier) is in two of the photos, one in the science lab, standing behind the table among the young men, then again in the last prom picture, 2nd row, 4th from left. So great to see these. Keep up the good work.

  7. I am Ronald Dejoie, class of 56, and I am glad to see my sister in the group pictures. I remember those days and I am glad to be reminded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *