‘Louisiana: Rolling Down the River’: Take a walk through the state inside OLQH school gym

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, March 14, 2024

From 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, March 14, Our Lady Queen of Heaven will showcase their interactive educational exhibition “Louisiana: Rolling Down the River.”

Each year, OLQHS hosts an annual school-wide symposium that serves as a “discussion and collaborative study” of a specific area of interest. During symposium week, students learn about the chosen subject and participate in themed activities. The ultimate goal is to have each learn about different areas of each topic, explained Megan O’Quin, director of advancement, OLQHS.

The inaugural symposium was in 1991, and the tradition has been a part of the school community for over 30 years. Past topics have included United State Presidents, Space, the human body, and the rainforest.

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Through the symposium, students are offered an intersectional education in a specific topic. This year, students and guests will explore the different regions of Louisiana with what is “essentially a large school museum exhibit,” she said.

“Louisiana: Rolling Down the River” makes the Mississippi River the epicenter of the symposium. O’Quin said that this theme was chosen because the waterway is a pivotal part of the State’s natural resources, economy and culture.

“It just felt fitting to make it the center of our theme.”

OLQHS took this literally. The walkway through the exhibit is the Mississippi River, and takes guests and student’s on the symposium journey. OLQHS’ small gym has been decorated wall to wall, ceiling to floor, and transformed into an immersive experience that feels like walking through the entirety of the state. The entrance begins in North Louisiana and journeys into Sportsman’s Paradise, continues through the Crossroads region, into Plantation Country, Cajun Country and then finally in the Greater New Orleans region.

Each region in the exhibit has interactive components for students and visitors. Younger students will be able to create animal track rubbing in the Sportsman’s Paradise section, and guests can scan QR codes to see video recordings of second and fourth graders reading stories.

O‘Quin said integrating music and art into the exhibit was also a priority, and educational information about artists and musicians in each region will be displayed.

“It truly spans history, culture, agriculture and more!”

At the showcase today, there will be Louisiana-centric food samples, like jambalaya, beignets and more.

The symposium is a “life-size and school-wide group project.”

The work on the symposium begins at the start of the school year, and in the months and weeks leading up to Symposium week, the themed curriculum and exhibit construction amps up, she said.

Teachers worked together in groups to make sure their lesson plans aligned with exhibit themes and brainstorm what their respective sections of the exhibits look like. It was constructed in the gym in three days with the help of teachers, parents and students.

“Many had the help and handiwork of parents who generously volunteered their time and talent. We had parents creating structures, signage and even bringing in authentic pieces to add to the landscape.”

Every student contributed to the exhibit, and the symposium serves as a chance for them to see not only the fruits of their labor, but the results of collaboration.

“It is during this week that the students are able to really see how their work fits into the big picture. … Whether they made flowers, wildlife, artwork or created a video to tell a story or a QR code for visitors to scan.”

In addition to the exhibition, OLQHS celebrated symposium week with speakers and visitors to tell students about Louisiana’s history and culture. On Monday, the school kicked off the celebrations with a visit from Gumb Gator, Sheriff Tony Mancuso and a live cajun band.