By Kevin Shannahan
Natchitoches’ East Natchitoches Elementary School played host to a remarkable example of cooperation between the school, the community, Northwestern State University and Grambling State University on Thursday, Nov. 8th. Grambling’s 45 student strong Concert Choir gave a magnificent performance as did two students from the school. The event was a fundraiser for the East Natchitoches School of Fine Arts, formerly the L.P. Vaughn School of Fine Arts, now in its 5th year of bringing expanded horizons to our children and its 1st year at its new home in East.
The evening was truly a team effort. Members of NSU’s Presidential Leadership Program served the night’s patrons. Many of the instructors at the L.P. Vaughn Academy of Fine Arts are NSU CAPA students.
The Grambling State University Concert Choir under the direction of Natorshau M. Davis, Assistant Professor of Vocal Music/Choral Director, performed a variety of songs, from spirituals to songs from musicals. Two local students also were highlighted, delighting the audience with a vocal performance and drum solo.
This was a superb event. The East Natchitoches School of Fine Arts is an example of what can happen when a community comes together. There are smart and talented kids in each and every school in the parish. Mr. Danny Von Kanel, Principal Chrystal Davis, the faculty and staff of East Natchitoches Elementary, 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. Last year, 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, now a 6th grader at East Natchitoches, gave a drum performance that would have done justice to a much older musician. Well done gentlemen! You upheld the finest traditions of your fraternity and helped light a fire. May that fire 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 am proud of the university.
The East Natchitoches School of Fine Arts is setting an example for the parish in identifying and nurturing the talents of our community’s students.