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Bouquets & Brickbats 

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Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise, Kira Orange Jones and Sarah Usdin,

all local leaders in the Teach For America movement, recently received the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership at the organization's annual meeting in New York. Named in honor of the late ABC News anchor and longtime Teach For America supporter, the award is presented annually to Teach For America alumni who have worked to end educational inequity.

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Ellen DeGeneres

was named the recipient of the Kennedy Center's 15th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, one of the nation's highest awards for a comedian. DeGeneres, who got her start performing around her native New Orleans, will be honored in Washington, D.C. Oct. 22 at a gala. Previous recipients have included Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and Bob Newhart.

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Bobbie Smith

was named the 2012 Mary Steibel CAREGiver of the Year by the Home Instead Senior Care Network. Smith, who was selected from more than 65,000 nominees for the award, has worked with seniors, the sick and the elderly in New Orleans for many years. She received her award recently at the organization's annual convention in Omaha, Neb.

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David Simon

helped raise $35,000 for the local musical charities Tipitina's Foundation and the Roots of Music with his Treme vs. The Wire Battle of the Bands, which pitted New Orleans bands against counterparts from Baltimore. Galactic and the Stooges Brass Band represented Treme at the event, which was held May 11 at Tipitina's. There was no formal winner declared, but in its recap, praised Baltimore but sided with New Orleans, saying, "It was hardly a fair fight."

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