Maintain Cabrini Park

(Sent to NORD and City Council)
To whom it may concern:
I am writing concerning the online debate by those in favor of single-use of the park only for Homer A. Plessy students when they take over the McDonogh 15 school on St. Philip.
I am very pleased that Homer A. Plessy School is coming to the Quarter as our next charter and cannot think of a better fit, due to the historic name attached to it, the goals of the school and the engaged parents, some of whom I know personally. I sincerely wish this to be a great success so that is also why I am against cordoning off Cabrini Park entirely, held only for the school’s use for a few hours per week. That will only create a barrier between the school and the neighborhood.
I live in the French Quarter and and have done so on and off for decades since high school, when I attended L.E. Rabouin and walked through the Quarter and CBD each morning. That daily trip gained me many protectors and friends who would look out for me and greet me as I made my way to Carondelet.
The opportunity to live in a gracious, social city like New Orleans is amazing enough; to be here during one’s formative years is another gift. Children should be able to feel comfortable on their city streets and in their public spaces, not to be cordoned off from them as if all other people (neighbors!) are something to be frightened by. One of the wonderful things about our French Quarter and the little Red Schoolhouse as realized by Lucianne Carmichael is that it allows the children to be members of the neighborhood, as we see in the regular, happy use – by their parents and kids – of the coffeehouse across the street, when they line up to walk down Bourbon to the park or going on field trips to the French Market among other outings. We shouldn’t want any it any different in our public park.
And as someone who uses and has used the few green spaces for decades in the Quarter for play and at one time for my little dog’s exercise, I know how much community happens at the park, sharing notes and meeting new neighbors. For all of these reasons, I ask that the off-leash dog site and public use of Cabrini park be maintained. Not only does the school have 2 play areas of their own, the new park layout allows for multiple uses at once. Every neighborly eye on our park helps to maintain it as a safe and neighborly place; locking the doors will bring the negative activity back; it indicates to those looking for hidden corners to engage in illegal activity that this is an ideal space for that.
 The dog park will also allow for a controlled area for our many 4-legged friends. That activity also likely reduces the crime in that area and adds happy playful sounds, sounds that we all sorely need in our stressful life.
Let’s work together to build a world-class park for everyone.

The 75 year-old Little Red School House on Royal (McDonogh 15)

 

When wealthy recluse John McDonogh died in 1850, the residents of New Orleans and  Baltimore were surprised to find themselves the beneficiaries of his considerable estate. His will specified that the money was to be used for the purpose of establishing public  schools in the two cities for “education of the poor of all castes and races.”  Over 30  public schools bearing John McDonogh’s name were constructed in New Orleans.

Baltimore on the other hand, opened one which was established originally as an all-white, semi-military school for orphan boys, who worked on the farm in exchange for their tuition, room, and board. The first African-American student was admitted in 1959. In 1971, the military traditions of the school were discontinued but to this day it is regarded as one of the Baltimore region’s most prestigious preparatory schools.

LRS was constructed in 1932 by city architect, E. Christy on the site of the early 19th century St. Philip Theatre.

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Before it was a theater, the playhouse on St. Philip Street was a ballroom, and it would revert to its original ballroom status several times during its lifetime, alternatively known as the Salle Chinoise, the Winter Tivoli, and, in perhaps its most famous incarnation, the Washington Ballroom. Under the ownership of Bernardo Coquet, the St. Philip Street ballroom was the scene of the first balls for free people of color, and in 1805, when it was leased by Auguste Tessier, it became the first hall to host quadroon balls. Between 1808 and 1832, when it became the Washington Ballroom, the theater competed first with the St. Peter Street Theater and later with the Orleans Theater to be the premier site of French opera in New Orleans. [J.G. de Baroncelli. Le Theatre-Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans. New Orleans, 1906] (nutrias.org) 

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St. Philip School – Boys – No. 721 St. Philip  (hnoc.org) 

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Building used in 1958 for King Creole school scenes 

In 1970, Lucianne Carmichael requested to be sent to the lowest performing, most segregated school. While earning a Masters degree from Tulane University she developed and implemented a Language Arts project that operated centers in 26 public and parochial schools. From 1964 until 1969 Lucianne was responsible for assisting in the preparation of the E.S.E.A Title I proposal and developing new programs for inner city schools. In 1969 she was appointed acting principal of Howard No. 1 school. The next year she was assigned to McDonogh 15, an empty elementary school in the French Quarter. With the help of dedicated staff, she breathed life into a dead building and an innovative school was born.IMG_1140

2006- 2016:

KIPP McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts

KIPP McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts was a public charter school operated by KIPP New Orleans as part of the Louisiana Department of Education?s Recovery School District (RSD). In 2006,  KIPP McDonogh 15 started serving 470 pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students. In 2011, KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School moved to the Frederick Douglass building on St. Claude avenue and began functioning independently of the primary school. After a year at the Douglass building, the school moved to its current location in Gentilly, and renamed KIPP Morial in 2017. https://www.nola.com/education/2017/08/new_orleans_kipp_morial_school.html

Homer Plessy, A Community  School

Homer Plessy School’s charter was granted in 2012, with a focus that placed that a high value on critical thinking, creativity, diversity and citizenship, and served its first student population in 2013. The school moved to the FQ campus in 2017.