Nostalgia Nest teens recognize achievers in black history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2000

DANIEL TYLER GOODEN / L’Observateur / March 1, 2000

PAULINA – The culmination of studying black history took shape in celebratory performance last week for the students at the Nostalgia Nest.

Friends of the halfway home for girls were invited to watch as the eight girls, ages 12-17, sang, danced and performed a small play in recognition of those black individuals who came before them, changing the world with their influence.

Caldonia Ceasar, St. James Parish assistant superintendent, was inattendance to speak to the girls. “Look at the month like, ‘What can we do inour lives to make a difference?'” said Ceasar.

Stressing the need for goals, Ceasar instructed the girls to decide where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do with their lives.

“Always listen. Take what you learn and pass it on. What you’ve learned is nogood if you don’t pass it on,” she said.

She reminded the listeners they have the same chance as anyone past or present.

“You have the same equipment, the same arms, legs and minds as every famous person in history,” she added.

A list of black inventors was read by a student, including such names as Lee Burridge with the typewriter, John Burr with the lawnmower, John Standard with the refrigerator, Elbert T. Robinson with the electric trolley and DanielHale Williams, who performed the first open heart surgery.

The girls performed a short play in which they learned about the history of Africa. Discussing the great tribes and their progress through history, theycited the achievements of leaders like Shaka Zulu and Nelson Mandela. Theyspoke of what they had learned of Apartheid and the African’s struggle for freedom in his own country.

Assistant Director Terri Glover and Principal James Florent thanked the guests for attending. Florent explained the program gave students a chanceto “really study and get an idea of the contributions of black people.”The event ended with lunch, and guests were invited to sit down with the students and talk in a more relaxed and friendly setting.

The Nostalgia Nest Alternative School was founded to establish a supportive and positive community by maintaining respect, says the mission statement.

Florent said the home gives the opportunity for rehabilitation and help in the transition from a detention facility atmosphere to life back in society.

“We take in girls who can be rehabilitated – runaways, those that have abused drugs but are not using, kids in need of structure,” said Florent.

The school is designed to hold up to 15 girls, though it currently has only eight students. The home operates on a point accruement system; the morepoints gained by completing their duties the more responsibility and freedom they are given, said Florent.

As they progress they can walk the grounds unattended and go into town for movies or go shopping with a chaperon. The girls attend the school betweensix and nine months, said Florent.

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