And the Tradition Continues…The Legacy of the Ring

By: Rene’ J.F. Piazza (Class of '83)

No one will deny when describing Holy Cross School, one instinctively thinks of “family tradition.” In fact family tradition is synonymous with Holy Cross. Founded in 1849 and opening the school on Dauphine Street in New Orleans in 1879, the school has been educating young eager boys and turning them into intelligent prestigious men for 169 years. And it doesn’t stop there. These men are sending their own children to Holy Cross. And so it continues, the cycle of life and family tradition, as these “boys to men” pass on a legacy of formation, generation after generation.

Bryan R. Arena Jr. is one such boy, who over the past four years has now reached the point in his high school career to be called a senior. And with that distinct honor comes another Holy Cross tradition—the senior class ring. Bryan is not the first in his family to walk the halls of such an iconic school. Dating back to 1939, Bryan’s late great uncle, William Norman Ayers graduated and the family tradition was born. Over the next 8 decades, Bryan’s family has kept the tradition alive. The list is long, but I would be remised if I didn’t at least mention them: Bryan’s grandfather, Vincent P. Piazza, Jr. (’55), his great uncle Hugh Arena ('54), his uncles, Calvin M. Piazza Sr. (’80), Paul R. Piazza Sr. (’82), Rene’ J.F. Piazza (’83), Bryan A. Piazza (’92), Nicholas L. Piazza, Sr. (’97),  and his cousins, Leo L. Seago, Jr. (’68), Leo L. Seago III (’92), Michael N. Ayers (’88), Darryl G. Ayers (’91), Jeffrey T. Ayers (’96), John David Collins, Jr. (’97), John C. Sansone (’68), Joshua R. Sandoval (’09), Justin L. Sandoval (’15), Andrew R. Scallan (’98), Vincent P. Scallan (’02), Eric J. Scallan (’04), Christopher M. Piazza (’05), Paul R. Piazza, Jr. (’05), and Calvin M. Piazza, Jr. (’10).

This is an impressive number of men who graduated with the pride of knowing that they walked in the same shoes as their relatives before them. Bryan’s senior year will be extra special as his Grandfather (Vincent P. Piazza Jr.) gave his ring from 1955 to his grandson at the Ring Mass held August 18 at St. Dominic Church. “I want to give back to my family what was once given to me. I am honored that maybe one day, Bryan Jr. will give my/his ring to his grandson.”

Recently I asked the past graduates of HC to share their fondest memories of their high school years. Some shared funny moments and some shared more symbolic memories that really shaped who they are today.

“I couldn’t wait to go to Holy Cross and was excited when my brothers also attended with me. I knew one day my sons would experience what we experienced and what my father experienced. I think of the incredible teaching staff, especially Brother Melchior, who left a major impact on me. He was a no-nonsense brother, a true leader, inspirational, and made me a Holy Cross Man.” (Calvin M. Piazza Sr.)

“Besides an unmatched education, I loved the home-made cafeteria meals.  I would be sitting in religion class with Mr. Clark, and could smell the fresh bread baking. My Aunt Thelma Seago was a volunteer and would always slip me an extra piece of bread.” (Rene’ J.F. Piazza)

“Holy Cross was a pivotal experience to my intellectual, physical, and spiritual development. One thing that always stood out most is when our Alma Mater played. Teachers, students, and clergy always stood with one finger in the air to symbolize we are one family. It was humbling and empowering, knowing that I was part of a larger purpose, standing together with our past, present, and future Holy Cross Family.” (Nicholas L. Piazza)

“I had Brother Benedict for Science. He would walk around as he lectured and if anyone interrupted him, without missing a beat, he would tap the boy on the head and remind him to be quiet while taking notes.” (Vincent P. Piazza Jr.)

Soon Bryan will graduate, join the rest of his family, and one day share his memories of his Holy Cross years. For now, he is honored to have received his grandfather’s class ring and will always wear it with pride and admiration. And he is not the end of this family tree. Coming up the ranks are Nicholas Piazza, Jr., Austin Piazza, and Leo Seago IV, Ty Scallan, Kamerson Piazza, Kandance Piazza, and Karson Piazza, who will attend Holy Cross before we know it. But that’s another article for another time. Until then…the tradition continues…..

Senior Ring Mass Photo Gallery: