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In Mourning


Many young people have been mourning the loss of Lance Zarders, one of my former students at Oretha Castle Haley Elementary School. I promised to post the link to his Guestbook where friends and family can express their sentiments. Lance was the second teenaged son to be murdered in the Zarders family. His brother was shot to death after leaving school in 2005. http://obits.nola.com/NOLA/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=105966497&PageNo=1.

We have to work harder with our middle school students. I've started working with someone to develop a stronger program for next year. Lance made 17 in January. There are a group of students in our elementary school who are 15 and 16 years old. Some of them knew Lance. One says he saw Lance dead on the ground on Frenchmen St. where he was shot. I mentioned this to the school's social worker and the principal last week. I'm not sure what else I should do.



My name is Natalie and I am a student at the University of Houston. Our class was assigned to look on this particular website and find a blog to respond to. I am a former resident of Louisian and I also resided in New Orleans for a couple of years and that is why I took interest in your blog. Although I am from Louisiana moving to New Orleans was an eye opener for me. The views and the culture of New Orleans is like no other. I learned so much while I was there. One thing that I did not understand was the lack of value for human life of some of our youth. I emphasize SOME youth. Everyday I found myself reading in the papers or viewing in the news about another youth gunned down, drive by shootings in the projects, innocent bystanders getting killed. Granted, I am from a small city in Louisiana and New Orleans was my first "big city", but I still could not figure out why everything had to be resolved so violently. I really feel that as adults we must go back to encouraging and directing our children down positive paths. We must set the example of showing our children how to get involved in the community, church, and schools and the benefits that come from such acts. We must show them how to take pride in themselves, their community, and their heritage. My question is, "How do we find time to encourage our youth, when adults are in such need of encouragement themselves?"
I am so sorry to hear about this young man, who seems like he was a wonderful young man and he was on a successful path to the future. Hopefully he will be inspiration to others his age.

Thank you for your comments and questions. I have asked myself the same questions about the violence over several decades of working with children who live their lives in poverty. I am sure that the two are connected. Even in rural areas where there is extreme poverty, we don't see the high level of violence. It may have something to do with the living conditions, the drug trade, and the proximity to people who live lives of wealth.

In New Orleans, in particular, some of the richest citizens live uptown on St. Charles Avenue and State St. etc. However, within a few blocks, you will see some of the most devastated, poverty-stricken homes in town.

My old school, Haley Elementary was on N. Robertson St. and Franklin Avenue within walking distance to the French Quarters. We had one of the highest levels of homelessness in the city, even though our community buttressed the most renowned section of the Crescent City.

I don't know of any other city where the poor and the rich live so closely together but lead very separate lives. Maybe seeing the riches that some people have and thinking that you can never gain such wealth is an excuse to get money any way possible.

I don't think money was involved in Lance's death though. It was probably as senseless as it seems. You might want to read the following Point of View that was published last week.


Here is a video of an interview with Lance's father, Lionel. I should warn you that it's very sad.

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