Story By Beth Donze, Clarion Herald
Photo Courtesy of Christian Brothers School
Miniature paper models of buildings lining a hallway inside Christian Brothers’ Canal Street campus were familiar, but with a zany twist: St. Louis Cathedral was within spitting distance of the Entergy building; Jesuit High School was next to the Prytania Theater; and an Uptown establishment – GNO Cyclery – was dwarfed by a Downtown landmark: Harrah’s Hotel.
But geographical mayhem aside, the little buildings were unmistakably New Orleans, from the green-and-white awning of Angelo Brocato’s to the scarlet roof of the Fair Grounds’ grandstand.
This “New Orleans in miniature” was the dazzling culmination of a social studies and reading project undertaken by Christian Brothers second graders probing the various building blocks that go into making New Orleans the community that it is.
“Our students learned about ‘needs’ versus ‘wants,’ ‘goods’ versus ‘services,’ and each member’s responsibility and involvement in making their households and communities successful,” said second-grade teacher Nancy Giacone, who taught the unit with her fellow second-grade teacher, Bethany Carrigee.
“Everybody has a role in the community,” Giacone said. “We talked about citizenship and what our families do to help in the community; how we have rules in the community; how something as basic as a hair salon offers a service to us.”
The teachers assigned each second grader a general business category, such as “bakery,” “car dealership” and “sporting venue,” and gave him or her a photo of a local example of a business in that category. The choice of the specific business was left up to the student. For example, the student assigned “fast food outlet” might have received a photo of McDonald’s, but was free to research Wendy’s or Subway.
“They were encouraged to interview people about it and do other research. Some of them went to the business,” Giacone said. “It had to be a family project, but I wanted the children to be the ones spearheading the ideas.”
Second grader Sophie Cusimano, who was assigned “grocery store,” interviewed the staff of her local Fresh Market.
“Groceries give our community food to survive,” Sophie said. “At Fresh Market, I asked them if they donated any (unpurchased) food to the homeless, and they said yes.”
Said Giacone: “It’s just giving them an understanding that we all have some role in the community, we all have some part to play. It also opened their eyes to knowing that they have to rely on other people, and that those people create businesses to help us.”