Hats off to Easter

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 10, 1998

Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / April 10, 1998

LAPLACE – Little girls in kindergarten at St. Joan of Arc School modeled bonnets and Easter dresses, while little boys modeled top hats and Easter suits at the kindergarten class’ recent presentation of Bonnets, Bunnies, Top Hats.

They strutted their stuff while kindergarten teacher Melanie Champagne

played “Easter Parade” on the piano.

It was a lesson to build self-esteem, Champagne said.

Champagne isn’t new to the modeling scene, and that’s why she wanted the children to have this opportunity.

“When I was a child in New Orleans I modeled for D.H. Holmes when I was 6,” she said. “And the New Orleans Horticultural Society sponsored a flower show, and I was one of the models. It was such a special event in my life and I wanted that for them.”

As each student paraded by, modeling their new fashions, they were told by the audience that they were “doing a great job.”

“We want the children to feel good about themselves, and that is a part of developing self-esteem,” Champagne said. “We are also doing etiquette and social skills.

“A part of our program is designed to teach them to like themselves and find things they like to do,” Champagne continued. “It has definitely helped some of the shy children that I had.”

Besides boosting self-esteem, students also learned invaluable lessons on taking turns, learning to share, cooperation and negotiation.

In addition to Champagne’s experience in modeling, students got tips on how to model from Holly Wallace of John Casablanca Modeling and Career School. Champagne said part of the broad lesson focuses on social skills and etiquette.

“It’s something to make them feel good about themselves,” Champagne said. “And they are so excited about the clothes.”

Champagne, along with her sister Darlene Maique, searched for the clothing for several months ahead of time.

“Darlene and I shopped all year for bargains on dresses, and she designed all of the bonnets,” Champagne said. “We’ve had a lot of fun. We planned it since October.”

But some of the early purchases of dresses had to be returned, Champagne said, because in just a few months time the kindergartners grew into bigger sizes.

Besides the adorable clothes, bonnets and top hats donned by the children, beautiful scenery and murals transformed the school’s music room into an Easter land complete with bunnies, flowers and pastel colors coating every corner.

Champagne said her nephew, Marshall Harris II, painted the murals. Harris is one of the artists who works on Christmas in the Oaks in City Park each year.

But Champagne said the best part about the program isn’t the clothes or even the beautiful scenery. She said it’s that the students will always remember the event and how it made them feel.

“They’ll always remember this, and when they get older they’ll remember how important they felt at that moment,” she said. “And that they are loved,and that is so important for each and every one of us.”

Photo: Students show are Tamara Warren and Adrianne Cashi

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