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Come see the in-demand bassist perform with his own band tonight
Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers
Les Bon Temps Roule (10:00 PM)
Candlelight Lounge (8:00PM)
Shake your brass in the Treme with a blend of hip hop, R&B, and pop
Maple Leaf (8:00PM)
One of New Orleans’ best percussionist invites his friends to the stage
PubliQ House (9:30PM)
Brass with electric guitar and keyboard
Chickie Wah Wah (8:00PM)
Americana from Austin
City Park (6:00PM)
Thursdays at Twilight, tonight with one of New Orleans’ premiere contemporary jazz pianists
Gasa Gasa (8:30PM)
Hosted by the Swamp Lilies, feat. Greg Good
Mid City Lanes Rock N Bowl (8:30PM)
Zydeco from Ville Platte
Ogden Museum (6:00PM)
Tonight, Jimbo Mathus performs while guests enjoy contemporary southern art after hours, sip on cocktails, and enjoy grub from Miss Linda’s Soul Food Catering
The Creative Class
In Big Class, Elementary School Kids Make Their Own Children's Books
Getting kids published might sound like a lofty goal within the New Orleans public school system, but Doug Keller and his team of educators and artists at “Big Class,” made it happen.
When Keller came to New Orleans and saw the state of our schools' writing programs, he decided something had to change. He and his creative contemporaries engaged elementary school students in writing, and now they’re on their third published work complete with illustrations from some of the city’s most highly acclaimed artists. On Satuday, August 11 at Homespace Gallery, (1128 St. Roch) art lovers around the city can enjoy the achievements of one big class during the St. Claude Arts District's monthly second Saturday festivities from 6-9pm.
Keller, who worked on films and wrote for The Onion before he came to New Orleans to teach, saw a void in the public schools’ writing programs.
“I came here and started to work in the schools, and writing—in terms of the way I feel about it, that it’s a magical, incredible thing—was kind of getting swept under the rug as a creative form,” said Keller.
Keller was teaching at a school in Marrero when he decided to expose his students to the world of creative writing. His initial goal was simply to provide his large class of 43 with an outlet to share their stories.
“Kids with low socio-economic status are isolated,” Keller said. “I decided to start a blog so that kids could communicate with the outside world.”
The baby bloggers made quite an impression—Keller quickly realized that his students were capable of more structured work.
“I thought it would be really cool to use my and my friend Kyle’s design acumen to make an actual book and give these kids an audience,” said Keller. “We wanted a real efficacy to the writing process.”
The Big Class was up to the challenge. Keller said his class began exerting even more effort once they had a tangible goal. They published 150 copies of their first book, The Animals, and it sold out. Keller said that parents became more engaged once they saw their kids’ work—family members showed up in record numbers for the first reading.
“Just for my class [of 43] we had about 150 people show up—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I always described it as a trust that was built back into the community once they had this physical example of student learning,” said Keller.
Now, Big Class has completed two new projects: Big Class No. 2, and Big Class No. 3: The 504. The books they’ll be presenting at the exhibition on Saturday are a culmination of the work of 59 students and 72 artists.
Keller said that the kids have already celebrated, and now it’s time for the artists to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“The artists are doing the work for free. The third book [The 504] is all New Orleans artists, but we have artists from all over the place: The New York Times, the New Yorker, the outpouring of work that’s come from this is so awesome.”
Recently, Big Class sent kids home with cameras as part of an upcoming project. Keller said their new work will be included.
“We’re going to be displaying all the art including the kids’ photographs in a kind of salon style, we’re also going to be hanging the books,” he said.
Here is an excerpt from their first book, The Animals. You can see the corresponding illustration for this snippet as well as more excerpts and art at Press Street's Room 220.
“We’re trying to get more and more community members involved. We want people to see kids as individuals and not just numbers,” Keller said.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Michael Weber, B.A.
Assistant Managing Editor
B. E. Mintz
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