Idyllwild Arts Academy Katrina Students Reflect on Finding Steady Ground After the Storm

Idyllwild Arts Academy Katrina Students ReflectBack in the fall of 2005 as families fled New Orleans, one of the pressing questions was ‘where will the students of displaced families go to school?’ A little piece of the Katrina diaspora story are the students who found post-storm grounding in boarding schools.

Idyllwild Arts Academy opened its arms and wrapped them around its Katrina students.

In “Katrina Students Finish at Idyllwild Arts School After Lives Interrupted,” John Asbury, of the The Press Enterprise, looks back at the experiences of Katrina students who found their bearings at Idyllwild Art Academy– a pre-performing arts boarding school-¬†after being torn from their moorings by the storm.

Idyllwild dean of students, John Newman observes:

“They all had a sense of displacement. We knew we needed to keep our arms around them…They had each other. Each of them dealt with their situation in different ways.”(TPE)

Student John Taube channeled his feelings of displacement into his work photographing Katrina damage as he left New Orleans, then, pouring himself into his work at Idyllwild.

“I was just starting to fall in love with (New Orleans). Suddenly, I felt too fortunate. It was a gift to be able to study there [Idyllwild]…I saw the images of Katrina and I knew they didn’t have the same fortune I did…It was awful. I had a feeling I might not ever get to go back to school…That type of uncertainty messes one up and I didn’t know what to do.” (TPE)

Taube poured himself into producing a body of work that earned him a scholarship to the Maryland Institute College of Art and he’s now back in New Orleans “where he plans to study the architecture of Tulane University.”(TPE)

Idyllwild gave space to the Katrina students allowing each student find his/her own way.

Not every Idyllwild student displaced by Katrina achieved full adjustment, or success, post Katrina but that’s OK with Idyllwild. The school understands the individual contributions, and the intensely individual responses, that each student worked through after the storm. Idyllwild means something- in a unique, personal way- to every student to whom the school gave a home.

“They had to go somewhere. There were families dispersed all over the place…We knew it was the right thing to do. They needed to continue their education and focus on things other than Katrina,” Newman told The Press Enterprise.

Did your school welcome students post-Katrina? Share you stories by leaving a comment below.

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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