Marielle says...


Hi! My name is Marielle Songy and I write for a small local paper in the New Orleans area. I wanted a place where I could share my work with people all over the country, thus "Marielle says" was born. I hope you enjoy your stay. Feedback is always welcome!

Everything here has been written by me, unless otherwise noted.

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10th Street Cafe

Written: 9/14      

      While looking for a quick lunch spot, I remembered that a friend had mentioned a small café in Gretna that was worth trying. 10th Street Café , located at 423 10th Street (naturally), was the place and after hearing how good it was, I knew that I had to try it out for myself.

      I first stepped into what looked like a nice, quaint home that seemed extremely welcoming and almost like something out of a story book. This cottage style house, which is over 100 years old, is surrounded by a small fence with a nice walk, a courtyard with a table and benches and a porch. For this reason, I think I loved 10th Street Café before I was even able to try the food. I walked in for a late lunch, and was immediately greeted with a smile by Betty, the kind woman who works here. She showed me to a table, brought me a menu and asked how I had heard about the place. I was instantly charmed by how nice Betty was and how the inside of the restaurant felt as if I was dining at an old friend’s house on a lazy afternoon. As I was sitting there, looking over the menu, a regular customer came in and was promptly greeted by Betty and asked about her family and day. I love that small town feel that comes from being in a neighborhood place, such as this.

      Examining the menu, it seemed as if this restaurant had it all. What really jumped out at me was the poboy offerings- catfish, shrimp, oyster, roast beef, ham and swiss and shrimp creole.  There were other tasty offerings such as the spinach stuffed chicken thigh and the stuffed pork chop. In fact, the entire menu sounded amazing. Since I was in a sandwich mood, I decided on the club. My food was brought out quickly and I was delighted to see that it was huge! This delicious sandwich came stacked with ham, turkey, American and Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, and it was paired with a generous pile of fries. It was more than enough for lunch, and I always love when I have some food left over to munch on later. One thing that really impressed me is that the owner, Darryl Ballard, came out of the kitchen and asked if I was enjoying my meal. I’m sure that it is difficult for him to do this during busier hours, but I was appreciative that he took the time to make sure that I was happy.  I was so pleased with my first meal here that I returned for another a few days later. This time, I started with a cup of crawfish and corn soup and decided to get the Friday special of catfish, salad and fries. It was all so savory and nicely priced and I became an immediate fan.

      10th Street Café is a “must try” for lunch or dinner. They have daily lunch specials, which include red beans and rice, served with side salad, bread and your choice of smoked sausage or a pork chop on Mondays, baked chicken served with Lyonnaise potatoes and steamed vegetables on Tuesdays, meatballs and spaghetti served with side salad and garlic bread on Wednesdays, white beans served over white rice with side salad, bread and a choice of smoked sausage or a pork chop on Thursdays and fried catfish served with side salad, bread and French fries or potato salad on Fridays.   Their hours are Monday and Tuesday 11:00am-3:00pm, Wednesday-Friday 11:00am-9:00pm, and Saturday 5:00pm-9:00pm. Their number is 504-941-7182.

      If you are looking for a nice place to host a bridal shower, baby shower or other type of get together, look no further than 10th Street Café.  They are happy to host your party in their intimate dining room and provide everything that you will need in order to make your celebration one that you will never forget.

      I can’t wait to visit 10th Street Café for another delectable lunch or dinner. The enjoyable food and atmosphere will have me coming back time and time again and bringing my friends. It’s such a delight to discover a lovely place in my own backyard.

Tagged: nolanew orleansrestaurantgretnawestbankwriterwriting

LeBlanc’s Restaurant

Written: 8/14 

      Anyone who knows me knows that I am the type of person who loves the feel of a small diner. Everything from the food to the nostalgia of mid-20th Century Americana just does it for me.  As much as I appreciate a big fancy restaurant and all of the bells and whistles that it entails, sometimes you just can’t beat really good diner food. That’s where LeBlanc’s Restaurant comes in. Located at 136 Lafayette St., LeBlanc’s serves up delicious breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday in a fabulous space in Gretna.

      I stopped in here for breakfast, eager to see what this lovely restaurant had to offer. I was immediately excited to see that ordering is really easy. The menu is on the wall and you just walk up and tell them what you would like. When I went, I was immediately greeted with a welcoming smile and I instantly felt right at home. I decided on the #1 breakfast which is eggs cooked to order, bacon or sausage, hash browns or grits and a biscuit or toast. I got my eggs over easy with bacon, hash browns and toast. I really liked that the coffee is readily available on the main floor, so that you can get it yourself and refill at will. After I ordered, I sat at one of the nice tables and waited for my meal. The restaurant is decorated with kitschy items from times gone by and the cloth table cloths add a nice “old school” feel to the entire experience.

      My food came quickly via a nice waitress who made sure that I had everything that I needed. Now, I’m one of those people who can tell whether or not I will like a place by what kind of breakfast they serve and LeBlanc’s did not disappoint. First of all, the servings here are huge! My eggs were cooked to perfection and the bacon was crispy and plentiful. My favorite was probably the hash browns. They were Brabant style (diced) and there were so much of them that I could barely finish it all! Just a note: the toast is on the lighter side, so if you like your toast a little more on the “toasty”, you might want to tell them so when you order. Other breakfast offerings include breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, cheese grits, oatmeal, and omelets. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 10:30am and Saturday 7:30am to 1:00pm.

      If you are looking for a new lunch spot, look no further than LeBlanc’s. They are happy to serve up daily lunch specials Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 3:00pm. You can stop in for different specials such as red beans and rice, hamburger steak with creamed potatoes, baked lasagna with salad, beef stew over rice with potato salad and fried catfish filet with baked macaroni and potato salad, depending on the day. They are so generous with the specials, that there are honestly too many to list! LeBlanc’s extensive lunch menu also includes a variety of sandwiches such as roast beef, meatball, hot sausage, hamburger, ham and cheese, BLT, as well as many others available on your choice of French bread, sliced or bun.  If you are looking for something a bit less caloric, LeBlanc’s offers grilled tuna salad, chef salad, grilled chicken salad and shrimp salad. You and your dining companions are sure to find something that you are sure to enjoy.

      A place like LeBlanc’s is a wonderful addition to Gretna. With good food and a friendly staff, they are sure to go far. I’m excited to stop in again for breakfast or try one of their delicious lunch offerings. Be sure to view their full menu at www.leblancsrestaurant.com

Tagged: nolanew orleansfoodgretnarestaurantwestbankwriterwriting

Summer Library Fun

Written: 7/14

      During the summer, it’s nice to get the kids out of the house and send them outside into the sun to have some fun. Here in New Orleans it can get really hot, and sometimes you or the kids need a break from the swimming pools or the zoo. Your local library has plenty of summer activities planned that are educational, fun and are sure to keep the kids entertained on the warmer days of the summer.

      Terrytown Library, located at 680 Heritage Avenue in Gretna, has plenty of activities scheduled for July.  Every Wednesday at 4:00 pm, the library hosts story time for children ages 3:00-7:00pm. Themes vary from week to week and include stories about the 4th of July, insects, music and the fun of going back to school. Every Saturday, from 2:00-5:00pm is craft day at the library. Children will be able to craft 4th of July door hangers as well as ladybugs, paper bag puppets and a paper guitar, depending on the week. On Monday July 7th, bring the kids to the library for a Porta Puppet Players special event. “Sleeping Beauty” will be presented with props, puppets and a sing along.  Children will get to participate by playing different characters in the story and all ages are welcome, including adults.  On July 17th, the bug mobile will be stopping by the library at 1:00pm for an interactive experience with some of the bugs from the Audubon Nature Institute.  This up close encounter is sure to be a good time and children of all ages are encouraged to attend.

      The Westbank Regional Library, located at 2751 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey, has an entire July full of summer fun planned for the entire family. Monday is story time here from 10:30-11:30am. Children will enjoy stories about pelicans, summer and a reading of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, depending on the week.  Every Wednesday from 10:00-10:30am, parents are encouraged to bring their infants and toddlers for a fun sing and play along. Registration is required for groups of 5 or more. Please call 364-3664 for more information. Some fun special events for July include cartooning with award winning illustrator and TV cartoonist Mike Artelle on July 15th from 2:00-4:00pm. Young adults will be creating cartoons which will help them think creatively and will leave with three pages of original cartoons that they have created. Probably one of the coolest things happening at the Westbank Regional library is the weekly vintage sci fi film club which meets every Thursday from 2:00-4:30pm and shows old sci fi movies. On select Thursdays in July, young adults can come watch movies such as Back to the Future, Gremlins, Batteries not Included, Spaceballs and Ghostbusters.

At the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego, located at 635 Fourth Street in Westwego, there is a lot of fun planned for July. On July 1st, from 11:00-12:00pm, magic lovers of all ages are encouraged to attend a magic show courtesy of Matthew Noel. Matthew will bring his stage show to audiences using magic, yo-yos, juggling and comedy. On July 8th from 11:00-12:00pm, the library will welcome the Audubon Nature Institute’s Wetland Express. The program will offer an up close experience with our wetland’s most important inhabitants. It promises to be a good time for kids and adults alike.

      It’s always fun to go “off the beaten path” when it comes to summer activities for the family. While the water park and the beach can be a lot of fun, it’s important to nurture our children’s creativity and imaginations all while supporting our local libraries. Hopefully I have given you some new ideas on how to spend those long summer afternoons. Stop by your local library for a full schedule of events that your child will enjoy throughout the year. 

Tagged: nolanew orleanswestbankwestbank beaconwritingwriterlibrarysummerkidsterrytowngretnaharvey

Pizza Places on the Westbank

Written: 6/14

      I know that it’s that time of year when most New Orleanians are enjoying crawfish boils and all of the delicious seafood that our city has to offer, so this article might seem like odd timing for an article about pizza. After all, you can pretty much have pizza any time of year. I have discovered that midway through Spring, one needs a break for the mud bugs and starts looking around for something different, or at least a change of pace. Well, that’s where delicious local pizza comes in. Now, don’t worry, I’m not talking about those national chains. While I believe that they have their place, I’m all about supporting local businesses when it comes to getting my pizza fix.

      One of my favorite restaurants for delicious hand tossed pizza is Mo’s Pizza. Located in Westwego at 1112 Avenue H, Mo’s has been a Westbank institution for years. Their homemade pizza is a local favorite of anyone who tries it. When I go, I usually just get one slice of pepperoni for $4.00. At first glance, that might not sound like a lot, but anyone who has been to Mo’s know that the slices here are huge and one or two is more than enough for a meal. The pizza is delicious and tastes just like homemade, and the slice is so big that it hangs off of the plate. If your group is feeling a little more adventurous or hungry, small pizzas range from $14.50 to $20.50 and large pizzas from $17.50 to $24.50. If pizza isn’t really your thing, Mo’s also specializes in amazing Italian food such as lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, veal parmesan and an assortment of Italian sandwiches such as muffalettas and sausage and peppers with cheese. With a huge menu, there is sure to be something for the whole family at Mo’s.

      Another local place that is not to be missed is Rotolo’s Pizzeria. I know what you are thinking- and yes, Rotolo’s is a chain, but it’s a local chain that serves fantastic food, and since there are locations everywhere, it is usually at the top of my list when I am craving pizza. One of the best things about Rotolo’s is that they have a lot of specialty pizzas and whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, there is something on the menu for you. One of my personal favorites is the Garden Alfredo pizza. This comes topped with creamy alfredo sauce, fresh spinach, mushrooms, red onions, Roma tomatoes and feta cheese. If I am craving a little meat, I usually ask them to top it with some pepperonior sausage as well. They also have a “build your own pizza” feature which allows you to top you pizza with classics such as mushrooms and peppers to the more unusual choices of olive salad and meatballs. Like Mo’s, Rotolo’s has other food options, if you are in the mood for something other than a pie. The chicken Alfredo and the tomato basil soup are a couple of my personal favorites.  Rotolo’s also has a nice assortment of salads and calzones, if that’s more up your alley. For dessert, Rotolo’s offers hand scooped gelato and root beer floats as well as a few other sweets. Also, be sure to go to www.rotolos.com and sign up to receive a free medium pizza on your birthday and on your anniversary!

      If you find yourself in one of those rare seafood ruts, check out what Mo’s and Rotolo’s have to offer. Sometimes a change of pace can be a good thing, and I’m sure that the crawfish would agree with me.

Tagged: New orleansNolapizzafoodwriterwritingwestbankgretnawestwegoharveywestbank beacon

Arden Cahill Whale Fest ‘14

Written: 5/14

      On April 4th, the weather was perfect and everyone at Arden Cahill Academy in Gretna was excited to celebrate the school’s 5th annual Whale Fest, a jazz fest type event. Whale Fest is a jam packed affair with fun for faculty, students and their families to get outside and have some fun and learn something along the way. Included in this busy day are student performances, music and art sessions, fun with animals and different food vendors.

      I was lucky enough to be invited this year as a guest and experience Whale Fest for myself.  Arden Cahill’s theater director, Carol Woltering, was my guide and she was happy to show me around and get me acquainted with what this mini Jazz fest was all about. We started in the morning with a performance by New Orleans’ own Charmaine Neville and her wonderful band. She was fantastic and got the students excited about her music and she even invited a few students on stage to help her with some of her performances. Students were also able to put on their own performances, for their parents and families, throughout the day outside and in the school’s theater. The kids had a good time dressing up, singing and dancing , all to the delight of everyone in attendance.

      Next, we were off to the gym where Daryl Young a.k.a. Dancingman 504 was leading a group of young students in a second line. The kids were encouraged to wave handkerchiefs that they had decorated themselves and just have fun and dance along with the music. It is Daryl’s goal to pass the tradition and culture of the second line onto the next generation. From my point of view, Dancingman definitely succeeded in doing just that.

      We then headed back outside in order to check out some of the visiting guests who were holding educational sessions in tents that were strewn about the campus. Grayhawk Perkins, a tribal storyteller and performer from Mandeville, lead the students in a Native American musical story and game.  The kids had a lot of fun jumping around and dancing to the beat of Mr. Perkins drum. The next tent was where Kevin Comarada, a color blind artist, was leading some eager students in a paper mache type of art project where pieces of magazines where glued together in order to create a story.

      Author Rob Owen took to a tent to talk to students about his book Spy Boy, Cheyenne and 96 Crayons. The story is about an eight year old boy who masks for the first time as Spy Boy in his Mardi Gras Indian tribe. When he becomes separated from his tribe, his spirit guide Cheyenne, and his box of ninety six crayons helps him return to his family. The story demonstrates strength and independence while encouraging participation in cultural and family traditions.

      In the library, authors Grace Milsaps and Ryan Murphy held a captive audience of little ones as they read from their book, “What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo”.  Grace, an early childhood educator at Isidore Newman School and the St. Charles Presbyterian Nursery School, read aloud from her book and the children were able to follow along on an accompanying projection. The story is about what the zoo animals do when the zoo closes and all of the people have gone home for the day. The story was wonderfully written and illustrated and will appeal to children of all ages, even those of us who are only children at heart.

      Last but not least, the Barn Hill Preserve had some wild animals for students to see up close and personal.  They offered a snake, a tortoise and even a small kangaroo. The kids seemed to really enjoy seeing these animals in person and I know that I, myself, was pretty excited to see a kangaroo in the flesh.

      Throughout the day, food was provided for students from different vendors such as:  Kona Ice, which offered snowballs as well as treats such as nachos, hot dogs, candy apples, chocolate covered pretzels and cotton candy. Frencheeze food truck stopped in and offered a selection of exotic sandwiches, including one that contained goat, which I wasn’t brave enough to try.  Avenue Restaurant was serving up delicious favorites such as shrimp pasta and crawfish and delicious desserts like fried Oreos, funnel cakes and bread pudding.

      I had a fantastic time at this year’s Whale Fest and it was nice to see the student body of Arden Cahill Academy coming together to have a good time and enjoy the day. If your child would like to experience some of the fun that Arden Cahill has to offer, then check out Camp Corral. Camp Corral is a day camp offered by the school in two different summer sessions, for children ages 3 to 14. For more information, go to www.ardencahillacademy.com/summer.

Tagged: new orleansnolagretnaschoolwhalewhalefestkidselementary schoolwestbank

Cook Notary

Written: 4/14

     As busy as life tends to be on a day to day basis, it’s nice when some things are simple. Cook Notary and Auto Title, located in Gretna at 1801 Lafayette St., is one of those places that work hard to make life a little simpler. At Cook Notary, you get a notary and so much more, all under one roof. Here you will be able to acquire home and flood insurance, rental insurance, auto insurance, health and wellness insurance and commercial insurance. Owner Brian Cook has 14 years’ experience in the field, and is able to help you with any insurance needs that you may have.

      Cook Notary and Auto Title is available for all of your notary needs, including affidavits, power of attorney, handgun permits and bill of sale.  Cook is available for in office notary needs as well as mobile and after hours.  Their auto title division is partnered with the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles as a public tag office, which gives them the ability to issue plate and registration on site. Cook can handle your vehicle transfer from start to finish from drawing up paper work to notarization and processing of the plate and registration.  Whether you’re registering  your vehicle from another state, have a complex title transfer or in need of a specialty plate, Cook Notary and Auto Title has the know how to get the job done.   Cook offers expedited auto titles that are issued the next day and soon, Cook Notary and Auto Title will be able to handle driver’s license renewals.

      In our environment, we all know how important home and flood insurance can be.  Brian P. Cook Insurance will help you pick out the level of insurance that you need. Most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, so it’s important to acquire flood insurance in case of a hurricane or other catastrophic water incident.  Many people rely on federal aid, in case of emergency, and this isn’t always reliable.  Brian Cook will help you add flood insurance to your existing coverage, so that you can achieve a superior level of flood protection.  

      If you don’t have homeowners insurance, Brian Cook can help you with that as well. He will help you figure out what level of coverage you need so that you will be protected from the loss of property or occurrence of damage.  Cook will also review how the claim process works and how you should go about filing a claim, if necessary.

      Auto insurance is not only the responsibility of any vehicle owner, it’s also the law.  Auto insurance protects your vehicle from property damage and covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it’s stolen or if you get into an accident. It can also help to cover medical expenses in the event that you are in an accident.  Brian P. Cook insurance has to covered, no matter you needs: automobiles, motorcycles or RVs.

      Health insurance is one of those things that everybody needs, but not everybody thinks that they can afford.  Brian P. Cook insurance will help you find an affordable insurance package that works for you.  Cook provides disability insurance, which is a way to protect you in the event of a disability that makes it difficult or impossible for you to work.  Your options are a “non-cancellable” policy, which is a disability policy that you can continue to renew at the same cost and at the same level of coverage, as long as you continue to pay the premiums.  Or you can also choose a “guaranteed renewable” policy, in which the insurer can increase the premium that they have to pay. Additional purchase will give you the option of adding more coverage to your policy that you can pay for at a later time.  

      Life insurance is available through Brian P. Cook Insurance in two groups: term life insurance and permanent or whole life insurance. Term life insurance covers you for a fixed period of time and only pays a benefit if you die during the term and does not accumulate cash value. Unlike term life insurance, whole life accumulates cash value over time however it is usually at a higher premium. 

      Business owners need insurance as much as private individuals. That’s where commercial insurance comes in.  Brian P. Cook will help guard your business’ future by providing you with commercial auto insurance, general liability insurance and workers compensation.  These levels of coverage will insure that you, your employees and your business are protected through any calamitous event.

       The offices of Cook Notary, Auto Title and Brian P. Cook Insurance are your one stop shop for all your Notary, Auto Title and Insurance needs.  Call or stop by the office today and they will be happy to serve you.

Tagged: new orleansnolanotarygretnawestbankcook

Local actress Sandy Bravender

Written: 3/14

     Local actress Sandy Bravender is no stranger to the stage. She grew up here. She got her start as a child doing musical numbers and it was here that she realized that she loved performing and putting on shows. Sandy has been doing this professionally for over 35 years, forming her niche as one of the leading ladies of local community theater.

      She first got her start as a member of Terrytown Country Club. When her friend Mim Babin suggested that they put on a play called “The Women”, to raise money for the country club, Sandy jumped at the chance. It was after that that she got involved with Theater West where she was on the board and did community dinner theater. After these experiences, Sandy had officially been bitten by the acting bug and she discovered that this was something that she genuinely enjoyed doing. Sandy worked at the Terrytown Country Club doing musicals and comedies in their clubhouse until she decided to open her own dinner theater.  Although owning her own dinner theater was something she enjoyed, Ms. Bravender felt that her talents would be better highlighted if she were able to perform at different venues around town, such at La Petite Theater in New Orleans. She decided to start her own production company with her partner, Dane Rhodes, and thus Sandi Roads Productions was born. This afforded her the opportunity to travel all over town producing plays.

      Of all of Sandy’s accomplishments, one of her biggest has been working with and mentoring actors who have gone on to star in stage productions in New York. People who have excelled in honing their craft and performing all over the country bring Sandy joy, because of the start that they got in actors workshops that she taught. Speaking with Sandy, I could hear the pride in her voice knowing that the skills that she shared with her fellow actors are being enjoyed by theater goers nationwide.  Some of Sandy’s favorite local actors to work with have been Becky Allen, Karen Hebert, who is a choreographer who has done a lot of work with the Atlanta theatre, Richard Hutton, who is a teacher at Tulane, as well as Ricky Graham.

     Sandy also does fundraising through local theater. She has done many shows benefitting alums of the former Archbishop Blenk High School, as well as fundraisers for West Jefferson Hospital.  In the past, she put on a show called “Joe and Mary’s Wedding”, in an effort to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, an experience of which she is especially proud. She also put on a production for the 25th anniversary of the Jefferson Parish fire department, which those who experienced it are still talking about years later.  Sandy’s latest fundraising effort is the dedication of the running of her latest play, “The Dixie Swim Club” on March 22nd, which will raise money for a local woman who is battling Churg-Strauss Syndrome (CSS), a rare autoimmune disease that restricts blood flow to vital organs and tissues. She is in Stage 2 of the disease, and because no one in New Orleans can treat it, she must travel out of state in order to receive care. The fundraiser will raise money to help cover these expenses.

      Sandy is proud to perform regularly at the only dinner theater in the New Orleans area. Located in Gretna at the Timberlane Country Club, the Salty Swine provides a fine dining experience with a nice mix of live local theater.  All stage productions are out of New York and performed brilliantly by local actors.  Sandy stresses that the plays that she produces are light hearted and fun musicals and comedies. “There is enough drama in life and we want everyone to come out and have a great experience.” Sandy says.

       For those that want to be a part of the action and try out local theater themselves, Sandy suggests being proactive. There are always audition notices in the paper. A veteran to the stage and no stranger to the process herself, Sandy suggests taking acting classes in order to hone your craft at Tulane, Loyola or UNO. She is also quick to emphasize that local productions are always looking for backstage help and that could be a good way to get your foot in the door.

      Sandy is now starring in “The Dixie Swim Club”, a story about 5 women on a swim team in college who agree to get together every year in order to catch up and share their experiences. This eclectic group of women includes a nun, a down on her luck mother under an eternal dark cloud, a woman obsessed with her looks and in love with love, a lawyer with a chaotic personal life, and a chronic organizer and perfectionist, who assumes her role as group leader. The comedy is playing at Timberlane Country Club on Friday and Saturday nights from March 21st-29th with a Sunday matinee on March 30th  at 12:30pm and then on April 11th, 12th, and 13th. Doors open at 6:30pm, with a dinner buffet at 7:00pm and the show beginning at 8:15pm. Tickets are $50 and reservations can be made through calling 362-4451.

Tagged: new orleansnolatheaterartactingwriterwritingsandy bravendergretnawestbankwestbank beacon

New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy

Written: 3/14  

   New Orleans is home to many unique schools. International and Charter schools help expand the minds of local young people. Counted among these is NOMMA. NOMMA is  the New Orleans Military Maritime academy which is a Type 2 charter high school serving students, no matter their background or previous school experience. Having recently moved into a new campus, located at 425 O’Bannon St. in New Orleans, NOMMA will be holding their building dedication on March 20th, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

      What makes NOMMA unique is the program.  Every student at NOMMA is a cadet of the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Program. They are educated by a dedicated team of teachers and retired military instructors who use their expertise to guide the students in their education.  Students at NOMMA are mentored by JROTC instructors as well as master’s level academic faculty who help cadets achieve their personal and academic potential, and certify core knowledge and skills of analysis, problem solving, communication, and global responsibility for success as future leaders.

      The academic philosophy at the New Orleans Military Maritime academy is that the purpose of education is help a student develop the skills, knowledge and attitude needed to become a responsible and productive citizen. NOMMA also works to nurture the characteristics, strengths and proficiency of each individual in the program. NOMMA’s standards-based managed curriculum model provides experience that is necessary in the pursuit of higher education as well as success in the work place. This curriculum functions under the knowledge that all students are capable of achieving at higher levels in learning with a strong formal schooling and that schools, as well as parents and the community, can control the conditions of success, and maximize the learning environment of students through clear objectives, high expectations and a balance assessment of learning.  It is also NOMMA’s belief that the instructional process can be adapted to improve learning and that student success, based on meaningful experiences, yields maximum achievement.  NOMMA offers a full slate of college preparatory classes for students to earn a college preparatory diploma. Academics focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and NOMMA is the only school in Southern Louisiana to offer a complete cyber science program. Electives are offered for drama, journalism, music, band and foreign languages.

      NOMMA expanded to grades 9-11 in the 2012-2013 school year and currently boast 360 Cadets with an average of 97% attendance daily. 90% of the Cadets come from Jefferson and Orleans Parishes, while the remainder from Plaquemines, St. Tammany, and St. Bernard parishes. NOMMA receives a great deal of community support for the program and local organizations have provided financial support to the academy. NOMMA cadets regularly volunteer their time to various causes such as supporting local events and taking time over their Christmas break to move the Academy and lay sod for the new lawn. 

      NOMMA’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Program provides a unique educational experience for those students who wish to seek a further education or be successful in the work force.  The JROTC, which was established by the National Defense Act of 1916 and expanded by Congress in 1964, operates within a disciplined and structured framework to train student cadets in authoritative and motivational skills that will encourage them to be leaders throughout their educational career as well as in their work lives. The Military and Maritime academy seeks to reflect the successful model of the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago, Illinois, with even greater academic success.

      NOMMA moved into its final home in December 2013 after occupying two different facilities during the planning and construction phases of its campus. The campus can host up to 745 Cadets with an average class size of 25 students.  The Academy’s campus is the result of a renovation of two historic Navy buildings at Federal City linked by new construction.  The new grounds contain labs, classrooms, a library, music rooms, a cafeteria and administrative spaces. A final phase of renovations will provide a separate wing for MCJROTC classes and Warehouse space.  

Tagged: new orleansnolawestbankwestbank beaconalgierswritingwriternew orleans military and maritime academey

Interview with local artist Becky Fos

Written: 2/14

      Becky Fos is a Texas born artist and mother residing in Gretna with her husband Jeff Fos, and their son Jude. When she decided that the plain white walls of her home needed a “little something”, she discovered a hidden talent; she is an adept painter. Becky got her start as a skilled hair stylist, and while studying stenography found that she has an eye for art.

How did you first realize that you wanted to paint?

 When the sterile, white, naked walls of my house started crying out for art, that’s when I first realized that I needed to paint.  I painted what I wanted to see on my walls, and I loved it!

 Who or what inspires your work?

Many things inspire me as an artist!  I am inspired daily just by living here in this magical city!  I love to walk uptown, downtown, the French market, and especially my neighborhood, Old Gretna,  to just encounter the magic that this city is all about.  I am inspired by the musicians that fill the street (especially those on the street corners with their tip buckets).  

 How did you come up with your particular style?

I started painting on my own just sitting on the floor with my canvas propped up against the cabinets in my kitchen.  I think that my style is evolving daily because I look at what I first created, with one of my son’s paint brushes and acrylic paint, and now I am using a pallet knife and oil to mold the paint to create texture.  I still love acrylic because it dries so fast, but I love oil because of the texture that you can add to a piece.  I love color too.  I was actually told that I use way too much color and that it’s not going to appeal to the majority of people, but I just can’t help being me.  I love color and I paint for myself and I’m just blessed that others would like it too.  

 Which of your pieces would you call your favorite?

 I think that it would have to be a toss up between my James Booker piece and my Big Chief Monk Boudreaux!  They are both inspirational as human beings, and I got the biggest rush while creating them.  I really couldn’t put down the paint.  The “Big Chief Monk Boudreaux” was actually a collaboration with photographer Joe Marino.  The way that he was able to capture all of his spirit in one photo was just magical.

 Who is your favorite artist, local or otherwise?

I love the creations of local artist Terrance Osborne, Debra Hurd, Bruni Sablan and of course, Vincent Van Gogh.

 You are a mother and you are also studying stenography. Do you have any advice for a mom who would like to create but can’t seem to find the time?

I actually found the time by painting with my son after all of the homework and extra-curricular  activities.  That was the only way I found time, and it was fabulous.  I got to relieve my stress and spend time with the apple of my eye, as well as create art for my naked walls!  I cherish these moments.  We would set up shop in the kitchen, put the sheet down on the ground and go to town.  Sometimes I would get so wrapped up in what I was doing that I would go back to it after Jude was fast asleep!  

Café Hope recently commissioned you for a portrait of John Besh. That’s quite the honor! How did that come about?

I was commissioned by Cafe Hope to paint the portrait of John Besh as a thank you for all that he has done for the foundation.  It was a huge honor and I was so excited.  They asked me if I would like to display art in their newly renovated dining room a few months ago and that’s how they came about asking me!  I was thrilled to present it to him at his gala in December.  

 What would you say to a young person who is eyeing a career in the arts?

I would say to follow your dreams and listen to your heart.  Go with whatever makes you happy.  I was never “classically trained” in art.  I never went to an art college.  I went to John Jay to study hair and I love doing hair.  In fact, I only do wedding hair because it’s my passion.  I have many hats that I like to wear. They all make me happy and have molded me into the person that I am today.  I am still studying stenography; it’s just going to take me longer to achieve that dream as well.  Who knows what could happen?

Where can we see your work? Do you have any showings coming up?

I have original paintings at Classic Frame and Mat in Old Gretna, Cafe Hope, Make Me Up on Magazine St. and The Nation on Magazine St.  I have prints for sale at Creative Hang-ups on Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey and Charles Jacob Design on Metairie Rd.  I also have a website:  www.eighty-oneartistry.com

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King Cakes on the Westbank

Written: 2/14

     Well, it’s that time of year again, and whether you call it Mardi Gras or Carnival, it translates into fun. Along with going to fancy Krewe balls and seeing how much you can catch at a parade, one of our favorite traditions is, of course, King Cake. The delicious confection topped with sugar and magic that everyone starts to crave as soon as the calendar tells us that twelfth night is upon us. It really seems that no matter how hard we try, we can really never get enough.  Since the season is a little longer this year; that means there will be more time to enjoy this delicious treat and maybe experiment with flavors that we haven’t tried before.

      Antoine’s Famous Cakes and Pastries located at 1300 Stumpf Blvd. in Gretna offers an assortment of king cakes and queen cakes of all types. Here you can get a king cake called “The Jester”, which is a traditional style king cake. You can also treat yourself to “The Wild Magnolia”, which is a king cake that you can get filled with an assortment of flavors such as apple, strawberry, lemon, pineapple or cream cheese, or if you want a version that is a little smaller, go for the queen cake. The cake itself is moist and not dry, with a little bit of flakiness and topped with a soft icing. Antoine’s Kringle Cake is a traditional praline king cake with cream cheese filling. All of Antoine’s king cakes are available for delivery or they can be picked up in store.

      A long time Westbank favorite for king cakes has been Hi Do Bakery located at 441 Terry Parkway in Terrytown. The king cakes here are described as a special kind of flakey and moist confection.  The cakes are in more of the classic brioche style than the typical “cinnamon roll” offering of some other places. Cakes come in sizes of small, medium and large and range in price from $9.99 to $29.99. You can get the cakes plain or filled with such fillings as apple, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, and of course, cream cheese. One thing that sets Hi Do king cakes apart from the rest is their unique shapes. If you are looking for something a little different than the usual round king cake, fleur de lis, crab, crawfish, and king crown shapes start at $26.99 for plain and $32.99 for filled. That’s something that is sure to get anyone in the mood for Mardi Gras.

      One classic king cake that most of us have had at least once is a Gambino’s king cake. Located at 300 Lapalco Blvd. in Gretna, Gambino’s offers a variety of different king cakes as well as Mardi Gras gift packages.  They also offer three different sizes of their traditional king cake. Their “Fat Tuesday” size starts at $49, their “King Rex” size starts at $55.50 and their “Big Easy” size starts at $80.70. You can get the cakes in a traditional, unstuffed flavor or you can get the single or double stuffed. Also, if you are looking for something a bit “off the beaten path” from a king cake, Gambino’s also offers Mardi Gras petit fours.

      Finally, if you are looking for a king cake on the go, I would suggest stopping by your local Rouses and picking up one of the delicious cakes that this local supermarket has to offer. Not only are they flavorful and come in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, cherry, lemon and cream cheese, but at $8, they are perfect for picking up on the go and enjoying at home or at the office. I find the Rouses king cake tasty and I like that the filling is “swirled” into the cake, so that you get a bit in every bite. It’s actually one of my favorites, especially if I am heading to a “parade party” and I need something quick to bring my host and fellow partygoers. It’s simple, but it always seems to be a hit. The Westbank Rouses is located at 2851 Belle Chasse Hwy in Gretna.

Tagged: new orleansNolamardi grasKing cakeswestbankwestbank beaconwriterwriting