King Cares trip to New Orleans includes volunteer service opportunities and music immersion


In February, a group of 25 students and five staffulty spent the long holiday weekend in the Treme in New Orleans during a King Cares service trip. The Treme is (according to New Orleans official guide) not only America's oldest black neighborhood, but was also the site of significant economic, cultural, political, social, and legal events that have shaped the course of events in Black America for the past two centuries. 

This year, in partnership with King Cares, members of the King jazz band took part in the trip to perform music and participate in service opportunities. Band members entertained the crowd at a homeless shelter, with the help of seasoned New Orleans jazz greats, Mark "Tuba" Smith, Malcom Morris, and Efrem Towns. The entire group worked with the children at St. Anna's program, spent the day in a community garden, and volunteered with two groups from Make Music Nola (an El Sistema Nola program). The service group prepared STEM projects with young children and the band played at Jackson Square and at the Silk Road Restaurant, as well as in the French quarter at Dutch Alley, the national park for Jazz History. 

The Mission of the King Cares Service Program is to support the values-based education at King. This Program reinforces the School's belief that service to the broader community, both local and international, is central to educational excellence. 

King first introduced this trip in 2009 after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with such a devastating blow that the need for volunteers became a focus at King. Cathy Mishkin, History Faculty and organizer of the trip, adds, "We contacted a group that was hosting volunteers. but they were already booked for the year. We continued our search and with the help of Coach Mark Lingle we were connected with St. Anna's Church in the 8th ward and the rest is history. Our first few trips involved working with families to help restore their homes. We also got involved with the children in St. Anna's after school program."

The group stayed at the North Rampart Community Center, and made their own breakfasts and shared responsibilities for the upkeep of the residence. "One of the highlights of the trip this year was the trip to the Whitney Plantation. The lessons learned on this trip will be with us for a long time. We also had the opportunity to visit Tulane University. The trip was packed with memorable moments," adds Ms. Mishkin.

Caleb Benkwitt, '20 participated in the trip and adds, "I think that my favorite part of the trip was listening to the local jazz bands that played in the Jackson Square, as it gave the group a sense of what music means to people from New Orleans. I think it was important to be there to learn the culture of jazz and from where it originated. Music has helped me become a better person as it allows me to express the way I feel through playing."

The trip was a great experience for the students and they returned home with wonderful memories. 

Abby Mancuso '20 traveled with the group and comments, "The NOLA trip was one of the best experiences of my life. This was my third time going, and each trip is different from the last. Working with the kids is so fun and being able to connect with them while playing or helping them with homework is so meaningful. This trip really changes the lives of these kids and helps bring exposure to activities and careers that weren't previously thought about nor prioritized. My favorite part of the trip was doing STEM activities with the children, practicing building different structures and talking about the importance of a good foundation and the physics of buildings while also having fun and connecting with the kids."