Variety spices life for 2011 Evangeline

Michael Jacobs
2011 EVANGELINE…Knights of Columbus Council 970 presents 2011 Evangeline and Queen of the International Acadian Festival Annelise Bergeron.

Emma “Annelise” Bergeron will spend plenty of time over the next year in parades following marching bands – and that itself will be something of a departure for her.

The Plaquemine native is a jazz saxophonist for the Catholic High School marching band, but this year she will follow many processions as the 2011 Evangeline.

Annelise, daughter of Richard and Emma Devillier Bergeron, presided over events during the weekend at the 42nd annual International Acadian Festival.

Her maternal grandparents are Dorothy Stevens “Dot” Devillier and the late Alvin Thomas Devillier Sr., and her pateral grandparents are Diane Hebert Bergeron, a native of Plaquemine, and Donald Stephen Bergeron Sr., a native of Assumption Parish and a member of the Assumption Parish Knights of Columbus.

Her great-grandparents are Myrle Hebert Ostergren and Roy Hebert.

From a love of music to a fascination of science down to fitness, the 2011 Evangeline pursues her interests with great passion.

Put her in a studio for ballet, in front of the TV for LSU or Saints football on the weekend, or even in a boat for a fishing trip – it all suits her well.

Or, just give her a saxophone, which has been the catalyst of her love for jazz, one of her great passions.

She first delved into music in fourth grade, her first year of band eligibility. From that point, it became a great love for her.

Just as musical skills have grown, so has her love and knowledge of the music legends.

Emma lists jazz legend Charlie Parker as her favorite musician, while Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr. also pique her interest.

“I love their work because it’s real music,” she said. “What we hear today -- Lady Gaga, synthesizers and meaningless lyrics -- do nothing for me.”

Music was something of a natural for Annelise. Her father plays piano, so it became a trait handed down to her.

Emma uses music and dance as a sanctuary from the academic rigors. She admits she never imagined how much a role it would play in her life.

“At first it just seemed like a good idea,” Emma said. “Now it’s taken on a life of its own.”

Her dedication in music paid off when she was selected to the All-Parish Honor Band.

When Annelise is not honing her music skills, she’s spending time working with the underprivileged.

“If there was one thing I could do to help change the world, it would be to make a greater effort toward ending world hunger,” she said. “In theology last year, we focused on moral issues, and the biggest was probably world hunger.

“I feel there’s been a decline in charity work,” Annelise said. “In our school, they tell us every day about the decline of food at the Baton Rouge Food Bank – and that’s something that needs to be brought into the spotlight again.”

Emma volunteers her time to work with the Salvation Army and the soup kitchen run by the Missionaries of Charity at St. Agnes Catholic Church. She also works with the Cinderella Project, which provides prom dresses for the economically disadvantaged.

“I enjoy that work because I know I’m doing something for others and giving back,” she said.  “People have done stuff for me, so I want to help others.”

Amazingly, Annelise carries out these activities at the same time she maintains a 4.2 grade point average.

“I try to do my best in school,” she said. “It helps to have friends who do, as well. We encourage each other.”

If that wasn’t enough, she works as a member of the SJA Beta Club, the National Honor Society, and Mu Alpha Theta Math Club. She works as a manager for the lighting and sound crew for special events.

“I’ve always believed in staying busy and making the most of life – I have only once chance at it, so I have to give it all I got,” Annelise said. “I do what I love, and have fun doing it.”

Annelise plans to major in Physics, something that captured her imagination while reading online stories from “Scientific American”.

“Hopefully, in twenty years I’ll be working in a lab, perhaps the Hydrogen Collider Particle Accelerator in Geneva,” she said.

She has also worked during the summer with the Audubon Sugar Institute, where she helps with research projects.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family. They regularly travel the state to compete in 5K and 10K road races for various charitable causes.

She attends Mass regularly at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and was confirmed in St. John’s most recent confirmation class.

She works as a volunteer in the gift shop at church and has also volunteered for perpetual adoration.

Annelise plans to major in Physics upon graduation from SJA. She is considering LSU, Rice, Georgia Tech or UT-Austin. She plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science and continue her studies on the graduate level.

She also studies ballet en point with Machita & Company.

Now she’ll add “Evangeline” to her already extensive resume.

“I definitely didn’t expect to be doing anything like that this year,” she said. “I’m in for an exciting adventure.”

A full slate of activities will dot Emma’s day-planner over the next year. Scores of parades, festivals and a Mardi Gras ball in Washington D.C. highlight her schedule through autumn of next year.

Several of the past Evangelines have already given her fair warning, Emma said.

“They all warn me of the busy schedule,” she said. “But I look forward to the small towns, the Christmas festivals and the other events.

“I’m anxious about the adventure that awaits me,” Emma said.