Arts Awareness Fest showcasing student talent Saturday

March 17 at 8:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Students making art at the Arts Awareness Festival.
Students making art at the Arts Awareness Festival.
Rodney Lafon’s legacy includes serving as St. Charles Parish Schools superintendent for 18 years, but it also certainly reflects his efforts to bring the system to the forefront of arts education.

The Arts Awareness Fest on Saturday (March 18) reflects those efforts, growing over the years until now the event draw nearly 3,000 people who, like Lafon, support the arts and want to see their students at their best. The 8th annual fest is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Professional Learning Center, 12727 U.S. Highway 90, in Luling.

“It’s extremely well attended,” said Mary Lou Sumrall, the system’s director of special programs and the arts. “We really have great support for the arts.”

Lafon, who was a jazz musician, would certainly be pleased to see the fest now involving 62 teachers and an estimated 750 students.

“I really feel a lot of what we have in the arts is because of him because he was a practicing professional,” Sumrall said.

The event, which is open to the public at no charge, will feature multiple stages with students from all schools performing theatrical, dance and musical selections.

“The arts help the kids in math and science, too … and how it works your ind in sequential order,” she said. “Our superintendent and board really gets that.”

Sumrall said attendees also will have the opportunity to create a variety of 2-D visual art, as well as buy paintings and other visual arts on display and on sale. Theatrical selections will be performed by choirs, soloists and bands along with special presentations by wind, percussion and brass ensembles featuring students from kindergarten through high school.

The public can join in the fun at the hands-on studio and even perform with several percussion ensembles.

“It’s a hands-on thing as well,” Sumrall said. “We also have the opportunity for little kids to make art, which is really a good experience for the kids.”

The only change to the fest is it has continued to grow in the last seven years, she said.

“Rodney Lafon was our fantastic superintendent,” said Sumrall, who also praised Superintendent Felecia Walker-Gomez and the School Board for carrying over his vision. Lafon supported this effort until his death in 2014.

His devotion to the arts is why the performing arts center under construction in Luling is named after Lafon. Sumrall said a task force is meeting to decide best use of the state-of-the-arts facility, which is a crown jewel addition to a school system that’s also been named among one of the best communities for music in the U.S.

“I think it’s great public relations for our school system,” she said of the arts fest. “People are amazed at the talent we have in the school system.”

Concessions will be available for purchase. For more information, contact Mary Lou Sumrall, director of Special Programs and the Arts, at (985) 785-3144 or

View other articles written Ryan Arena

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