For students who enroll at the Lafayette Parish High School Arts Academy, focusing on the arts is a top priority. "These kids need to be taught to be able to compete and get into colleges nationally," says visual arts teacher and artist Kathy Reed. "For example, in visual arts, if you haven't had drawing from observation or design in your visual art class and you're trying to prepare portfolios to compete with kids all over the country who have much better art programs, you're not going to get in. You're not going to have what it takes. Even though you may have the ability, the interest, and everything else, you haven't done the work. This program gives the students the chance do that work to get into universities no matter where they want to go."

The academy, part of the Lafayette Parish School Systems Schools of Choice program, was started 16 years ago and focuses on visual arts, theatrical arts, dance and piano. Students are admitted into the program by auditioning and attend an arts class at the N.P. Moss Annex every day. There are currently some 125 students enrolled in the program this year.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, the students will present their work in a showcase billed as the Beggar's Banquet. After a silent auction to raise funds for the academy, students will also perform the play Beggar's Opera. It's an evening devoted to the students to exhibit their talents and bring awareness to the academy, while raising funds for the program.

"We just want the public to come see what we do," Reed says. "We want people to know about it and help support us financially. The teachers teaching the program are very committed to having the students learn, and the students are just as committed. They have to sacrifice certain things to be in the program, and they have to work hard. We want people to see the excellence in our program."


Beggar's Banquet takes place on Saturday, Dec. 1, 6 -8 p.m., at Lafayette's N.P. Moss Annex, 801 Mudd Ave., at the corner of Mudd Avenue and Moss Street. Admission to the play Beggar's Opera is free, and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information on the Lafayette Parish High School Arts Academy, call 262-0620.

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