Blues News

The Fight For Lafitte

Hurricane Rita Strikes Lafitte
Hurricane Rita Strikes Lafitte

LAFITTE, LA – Only 8 years ago on August 29, one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in American history – Hurricane Katrina – rocked the Gulf of Mexico.  However, the storm surge of the following storm a month later, Hurricane Rita, inundated low-lying communities near the coast, worsening effects caused by Katrina.  Mother Nature could not have come at a worse time.

Among the various regions devastated by the storms, the small fishing town of Lafitte in Jefferson Parish suffered a tremendous deal of flooding.  Schools underwent construction for months after the storms subsided.  Children went to schools without floors, held classes in the teachers’ lounge, and made due with whatever supplies were available.

Although those horrific memories will forever be embedded in American history, the re-building of schools and their renewed sense of hope has caused one elementary school in particular, to flourish.

Leo E Kerner Jr ElemLeo Kerner Jr. Elementary School (formerly Lafitte Elementary School) is located on the SE coast of Louisiana.  The school has steadily been improving the quality of life and the quality of education most notably since 2009 when new business-backed officials were elected to the school board.  Teachers and principals are equally responsible to ensure steady academic improvement from year to year and with the bar set high, everyone in the Jefferson Parish Public School System is striving for excellence.  In that vein, the district wanted to open up an elementary school band to help the middle/high schools and universities grow, while still needing to cut the music program at Lafitte High School.  It would take a special person to step in and revive the music program in Lafitte.

The district took a chance on Mrs. Figueroa Ramos, an experienced music educator and alum of Lafitte, whose passion for teaching Mrs. Ramos' Studentsmusic is gifted to five different schools throughout the school week.  That’s right – Mrs. Ramos not only teaches a music class at the elementary school, but also at neighboring schools in the community, including volunteering her time two evenings a week to a combined band experience for 3rd – 5th grade students to enjoy.  As a proud Lafitte native, she remains strong and optimistic toward the growth of the music program as a whole and we think that Lafitte could not have hired a more noble and hard working person to oversee their growing music programs.

We also asked about Lafitte, LA and the impact of the storms on her environment: “Not only was Lafitte impacted by Katrina, it was also impacted by others like Ike and Isaac.  This community is constantly constructing and rebuilding.  Lafitte has such a great spirit, the community is very close and very welcoming.”

Mrs. Ramos would love a full time position to provide for her family, but budget cuts are still a major reality of the school system not just in Louisiana, but in schools all over the country.  As she waits her turn, she invests her future into the successes of the students she teaches and mentors.  She has great ambition for the future of Lafitte’s community and this passion and assertiveness needed to be rewarded.

My students have performed at town tall, at the senior center, the zoo, a community parade, and more,” Mrs. Ramos states.  “This year I am planning to combine my schools at the beginning of May and having a 120 piece band concert.  This will give students an opportunity to interact with students from different schools who appreciate music like they do.  I am just looking to give these students a well-rounded education and give them an aesthetic appreciation of music.

We also asked about Lafitte, LA and the impact of the storms on her environment: “Not only was Lafitte impacted by Katrina, it was also impacted by others like Ike and Isaac.  This community is constantly constructing and rebuilding.  Lafitte has such a great spirit, the community is very close and very welcoming.”

Mrs. Ramos needed a few more instruments to round out the woodwinds section, and that is what Keeping The Blues Alive and Kia Motors America we able to provide this week.  The clarinets will be able to fill out the upper register of their band instrumentation.  The music project also included instructional books and cases, mouthpieces, reeds, and more.  Mrs. Ramos will receive her new supplies sometime this upcoming week, and it’s all thanks to your donations!  She was absolutely elated when she received the news!

I am very happy and excited to have my project funded!  It is because of people like you that we keep our band going strong and growing proudly!  I really cannot express my gratitude for your generous donations, I will definitely keep you updated on my band’s progress.  We have so many performances this year at school and with the community.  We have Veteran’s Day celebrations coming up, a community parade, and an Honor Band concert towards the end of the year.  Thanks again!  I cannot wait to tell my students!” 

Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation, Inc (Deerfield Beach, FL) would like to thank its donors, and also thank the team at Kia Motors America (Irvine, CA) for investing in the future of these special students and their teachers!

If you would like to help us with our next music project, please click here to donate today!

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