The students of St. Catherine of Siena School in Metairie, La., have been through a lot together — especially after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
Lindsay Hernandez, 14, lived with 21 relatives and friends after her home was destroyed. See-Sha James Hayes, 17, lost her dog and her home, and is still living apart from her parents. Maycie Melerine, 13, misses her lost pictures after everything she owned was lost to the floodwaters. Auntrell Prosper, 17, still has Beyonce posters on her bedroom walls in her devastated home, but she and her family live in a trailer.
The girls sat down for breakfast with City Councilman Jay Batt to discuss the effects of Katrina, but were in for a surprise when they were joined by Louisiana native, pop star and new mom Britney Spears. She stunned the girls when she told them she was taking them shopping “to pick out some really good outfits.”
The surprises didn’t stop there. Their next stop was Emeril Lagasse’s signature restaurant. There, the girls enjoyed a traditional Cajun meal of red beans and rice, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese.
In between bites and girl talk, the group discussed the serious ramifications of the storm.
“We came back to Baton Rouge and there was no room. We had to go to a shelter,” Auntrell said.
The girls were in for one last surprise, fleur-de-lis pins — the symbol of New Orleans — on blue ribbons. The pins represent rebirth, a reminder of a few happy hours amid the specter of Hurricane Katrina.
“It was awesome. I will never forget it,” Lindsay said.
Spears also surprised the school’s dance troupe, the Gatorettes.
After the storm, the dance team was spread all over the country. Now the Gatorettes are back together and ready to practice.
“Coming to dance, it’s a relaxing time to have fun instead of worrying about other things from the hurricane,” said Emily Lococo, 12.
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