By Kevin Shannahan
Natchitoches’ L. P. Vaughn School played host to a remarkable example of cooperation between the school, the community, Northwestern State University and Grambling State University on Nov. 9. Grambling’s Floyd L. Sandle touring company performed a compilation of monologues in an evening of dinner theater. The event was a fundraiser for the L.P. Vaughn School of Fine Arts, now in its 4th year of bringing expanded horizons to our children.
The evening was truly a team effort. Members of NSU’s Presidential Leadership Program helped serve the night’s patrons. Many of the instructors at the L.P. Vaughn Academy of Fine Arts are NSU CAPA students. The school’s faculty helped with the dinner while the cafeteria staff cooked a meal the equal to any culinary event.
The Floyd L. Sandle Company under the direction of GSU Professor of Drama, Dr. King David Godwin, performed a series of monologues portraying a variety of actors, singers and entertainers from several eras, interspaced with singing and dancing. Two L.P.Vaughn students also were highlighted, delighting the audience with a vocal performance and drum solo. The evening concluded with Dr. Godwin giving a speech on perseverance.
This was a truly remarkable event. The L.P. Vaughn School of Fine Arts is an example of what can happen when a community comes together. There are smart and talented kids in every school in the parish. Mr. Dan Von Kanel, the faculty and staff of L.P. Vaughn, and the community artists who teach in the program, are doing more than teaching the arts. They are showing the children that they matter.
Some of the NSU CAPA students who teach in the program are members of NSU’s Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Chapter. When they noticed one of the students had an unusual gift for percussion, they got together and decided to help nurture that gift. They bought him a drumset. The young man, a 5th grader at L.P. Vaughn, gave a drum solo that night that would have done justice to a much older musician. Well done gentlemen! You helped light a fire. May it burn long and brightly.
The Grambling students who came to perform at a small elementary school far from their university brought honor to the memory of a small group of African-American farmers who with not much more than dignity, determination and a belief that tomorrow would be better than today for their children and grandchildren founded a training school that eventually grew into Grambling State University. I am a former Grambling employee and was never more proud of the university.
The L. P. Vaughn School of Fine Arts is setting an example for the parish in identifying and nurturing the talents of its students.