JMS Spends Spring Break in New Orleans

JMS students at Burnell’s Lower 9th Ward Market 

Saturated with history, iconic musicians, and sweet beignets, New Orleans welcomes millions of tourists to their vibrant city every year. This spring,15 Jewish Middle School students can be counted amongst those lucky enough to visit the “Big Easy.” Eighth-grade JMS students spent three days learning, exploring, and giving back to the New Orleans community. Students visited the National World War II Museum and Burnell’s Lower 9th Ward Market, and experienced the French Quarter, local French markets, and Mardi Gras World.  

Co-Head of School Rabbi Daniel Hoffman reflected that “As our students’ time at JMS comes to a close, New Orleans, a city so rich in both history and culture, was the perfect place to strengthen and solidify JMS values of community, learning, and integrity.” Rabbi Hoffman added, “The trip was an extremely positive experience for students and helped deepen relationships and foster a greater appreciation for one another and the greater JMS community.”  

While on the trip, students had the opportunity to visit Burnell’s Lower 9th Ward Market, bringing food donations and helping to stock shelves. Army veteran Burnell Cotlon opened his market after realizing that, for a full decade following the 9th Ward’s decimation by Hurricane Katrina, residents still had to take three buses just to get to the closest grocery store. Burnell’s provides essential items to all who live in the poverty-stricken neighborhood, whether they can pay or not. Students had the chance to meet Burnell, hear first-hand about the work he does in the community, and help in the market. Drew Lane, an eighth-grader on the trip, was moved by Burnell’s mission and said, “It was meaningful to help out, even just a little bit, and hearing what Mr. Burnell had to say was really inspiring.” Lane added that her time at Burnell’s encourages her to find a way to give back to her own community in Nashville. 

Students also spent time at the National World War II Museum, housed in New Orleans because it is the home of the “Higgins Boat,” the vessel that brought American soldiers to shore in every major amphibious assault of World War II. Rabbi Hoffman said, “The museum was incredibly powerful. A lot of students didn’t realize the magnitude of World War II and the impact it had globally.”  Students left the museum with a deeper understanding of the American experience during WWII, why it was fought, how it was won, and the impact it still has on the world today.  

Over three days, JMS students immersed themselves in the rich history, culture, and character of New Orleans. They came back inspired and eager to share about their experience. The trip gave students first-hand experience and relevance to their learning and interrelationships, and most importantly, it advanced and energized JMS students’ mission to become increasingly and positively engaged in their communities. 

JMS students at Burnell’s Lower 9th Ward Market 


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