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Letters to the Editor 

Editor's note: The first three letters were written by seventh graders from Lafayette Academy who participated in Project NOW: the New Orleans Writing Project.

They Need to Know We Care
The other day I saw two teenage boys walking the streets in school uniforms. I asked if they had gotten out of school early and one of them said, "No. We skipped, and we don't care about school." Since Hurricane Katrina, I have witnessed many students skipping school. I believe it results from them feeling blocked out, unnoticed or ignored. If you have ever been in the projects, or the "hood" as we say, you will notice "the overlooked" and the "unheard." They are the ones people seem to think cannot amount to anything. I think these young people believe there is no point in learning or trying to be something when nobody seems to care what they think or say. I know this firsthand because this is how I used to feel.

Then I realized that if I want to be something in life, I need to hold my head high and have my voice heard. Not everyone is able to come to this realization on their own. It is our responsibility as a community to save our youth by showing them that people care and that they have the potential to be more. As a community, we need to take part in a comprehensive effort to build a support system for the youth of New Orleans. Increased counselor intervention and a commitment to mentorship by teachers, professionals, parents, and community members will aid our goal. If we don't care about our future — our youth — now, then what will happen to our community in years to come?

Janiece Marchand

Listen to the Young
The issues of crime and education should be at the center of presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Never before in history have we had an African American or a woman serve as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

There has been great attention and excitement surrounding this political contest. We need to find a way to transfer this excitement to issues of crime and education. I propose that in order to generate the necessary interest in these issues, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama should participate in a debate just about these topics. I am a 13-year-old former resident of the 9th Ward. I hope my voice is heard.

Raven Madison

We Can Make Things Better
As a 12-year-old native of New Orleans, I believe Katrina gives us the chance to improve all of our schools — both students and teachers. Too many of my friends have been in schools that have been falling apart physically and academically. Kids are skipping schools or just dropping out. Sadly, schools are not improving. Students are not learning what they should. Some teachers are not teaching how they should teach. Some kids simply do not want to learn.

Now that all eyes are on the problem, we can help create an outstanding school system for every student here. I hope our voices are heard in this process.

Jessica Belcher

Give Us the Basics
In reference to "Buyer's Remorse Again?" (Politics, May 13), rather than a new City Hall, riverfront development and jazz museums, those of us who don't live Uptown need paved roads, professional police and the basic services that city government is supposed to provide. The prettiest green space won't attract people to a place with a broken infrastructure, where everyday life is still a challenge.

Robyn Blanpied

Don't Forget the Common Folks
I have been attending Jazz Fest since it's first year at the Fair Grounds. I have lived through a lot of changes over the years. We all know the fest has become more upscale since then, but the main change this year, the Big Chief Lounge, is totally out of character, and I find it appalling and denigrating. I am not a "Big Chief," and neither are hundreds of thousands of other fest goers who are the real people who have supported the fest for decades.

All these years I have attended the fest knowing that if I needed a cool place to have a bite, relax, people watch and check the schedule, the grandstand was available. Now, we have to pay for that privilege. I cannot believe that Professor Longhair would have sanctioned this type of elitism and greed. I have no problem with the special seating for the Big Chiefs, as they are paying for that privilege, but the grandstands should be for the people.

I will continue to attend the fest — until they make us pay to use the port-a-lets. Then I will find somewhere else to spend my dollars.

Paul James

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