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The Landry-Walker High School brass band won this year's "Class Got Brass" competition at the Congo Square Rhythms Festival. The brass band throwdown, sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, is open to all middle and high schools in Louisiana.

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Jarrius 'Little JJ' Robertson, the 15-year-old New Orleans native and Saints superfan who has battled liver disease all of his 15 years, will receive the WWE's Warrior Award during Wrestlemania Week in April. WWE said in a statement that Robertson "has exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance" and "lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of Ultimate Warrior."

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Panagiotis Markopoulos, who received a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans' counselor education program, was awarded a Graduate Student Research Award from the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors in New Orleans for his work exploring virtual reality technology to treat children with autism. New Orleans' theater scene is the fastest growing among 28 theater markets, according to the latest Regional Theatre Report from the Actors' Equity Association.

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Lusher Charter Schoolwas one of six Louisiana public schools nominated by the state for the U.S. Education Department's National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which "recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups." Winners will be announced in September.

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Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore were named NFL offensive rookie and defensive rookie of the year, respectively, by the Associated Press at the annual NFL Honors. The laurels made the New Orleans Saints the second team in NFL history to have two players win the awards in the same season.

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Terence Blanchard was awarded a fellowship and $50,000 grant by the Chicago foundation United States Artists to pursue his musical career. The trumpeter and New Orleans native, who has won five Grammy Awards, also works as a composer and music educator.

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Thomas Morstead, punter for the New Orleans Saints, inspired Minnesota Vikings fans to donate to his charitable foundation What You Give Will Grow — and in return, Morstead announced he would donate the funds to Children's Minnesota Child Life Program, which assists hospitalized children. The support was so appreciated that Children's Minnesota asked that additional donations be raised for Child Life programs in Louisiana.

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The 610 Stompers presented a grant for $5,610 to Upturn Arts, a Central City organization that provides arts camps to New Orleans children. The bequest, from the group's "Stompers Give Back" fund, was made Jan. 15 on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day during Upturn Arts' "I Have a Dream Camp."

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The Meterswill receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala concert and ceremony this summer, along with fellow honorees Tina Turner, Queen, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Hal Blaine and Louis Jordan. Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Art Neville, Cyril Neville, Leo Nocentelli and bassist George Porter Jr. formed the group in New Orleans in the mid-1960s.

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Drew & Brittany Breesopened New Orleans' first all-accessible playground for children with varying abilities in Audubon Park. Walnut Street Playground includes play stations for children with special needs, including kids with sensory and physical mobility problems.

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Hams for Famsprovided 210 local families with free food baskets over Christmas weekend. Each basket, which costs $100, is packed and hand-delivered to needy families in the days before Christmas.

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Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant raised $20,100 for Child Advocacy Services at its ninth annual Middendorf's Manchac Run. More than 600 people participated in the run, which began and ended at the seafood restaurant famous for its thin-sliced fried catfish.


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